Open House

18th December 2018

With homelessness on the rise in South Lakeland, a three year grant of £14,608 to Kendal-based charity, Manna House, will ensure vulnerable people continue to receive support.

Based on Ann Street, Manna House offers advice, advocacy and a drop-in support centre for those who are homeless, vulnerably housed, lonely or needing help. The facilities include dedicated rooms to discuss personal circumstances, a therapy and workshop space where anything from hairdressing, to counselling and drop-in sessions take place, as well as a computer room to help with job and accommodation searches.

The grant from the Cumbria Fund contributes to the Client Support Worker’s salary. This person is critical in supporting the service. During the past 12 months, they worked with 317 people and supported 66 into accommodation. A men’s group was also established so men felt they had a safe space to share their concerns and their feelings.

Andrea Aldridge, Chief Officer at Manna House, said: “Homelessness is a complex and growing problem. Since 2010, rough sleeping has increased in the area by 134%.

“Some struggle with debt because they have lost their job or are ill, many people’s circumstances are a result of family breakdown. Others wrestle with mental health issues or addictions or have suffered abuse or trauma. We are seeing more people who are at risk of becoming homeless, unable to pay their rent or mortgage. We would encourage people to come to us as the first sign of difficulty.”

Manna House also offers drop-in facilities that include: housing and benefit advice, tea, coffee and biscuits, cooked meal, washing facilities, clothing, blankets and sleeping bags, internet access and a food bank. Every week the charity provides nutritious meals for clients and volunteers, cooked by volunteers with generous donations from Booth’s.

One service user had been in prison for theft to feed her drug habit. When she first came to Manna House, she had been discharged from a mental health unit in Carlisle.  The local authorities considered her a ‘non-priority’ for accommodation, which Manna House challenged by working with mental health professionals who provided evidence.

She was given accommodation in an emergency hostel and was stable and on methadone at that point so staff and volunteers worked hard to make sure she didn’t mix with other drug addicts and fall back into old patterns. Manna House finally found her a tenancy in Carlisle.

The charity does not provide overnight accommodation but, says Andrea Aldridge those who are homeless or vulnerably housed will be sure of a warm welcome and an understanding, non-judgemental place to get help.

Photo courtesy of Manna House Men’s Group.