About – Let's BeFriends

About us

Let's BeFriends is a befriending service that helps to break the cycle of homelessness.

We provide companionship and support to beneficiaries who are homeless, about to become homeless or recently accommodated after a period of homelessness.

We support people to obtain and maintain tenancies and to engage in local services in order to create and sustain healthy ways of living. Most of our staff, volunteers and members of the Management Committee have lived experience of the pressures of homelessness, so everyone is passionate about recognising stigma, challenging discrimination and promoting resilience.

Our brief history

Let’s BeFriends is an organisation which was set up during the pandemic lockdown by members of the Lancaster Homeless Action Group who had lived experience.

Whilst the Government’s “Everyone In” campaign helped to bring homeless people in off the streets, our original Chair Alex Campbell and Treasurer Dusty Thomas identified a gap in service provision – namely that whilst gaining shelter was a great step towards ending a cycle of homelessness, the accommodation itself as not enough to address lack of community connection or alleviate the sense of isolation which often contributes to repeating cycles of homelessness.

The group came up with an idea to recruit, train and support people with lived experience of homelessness to befriend those who are currently homeless, about to become homeless or recently rehoused after a period of homelessness. 

The majority of our staff, volunteers and Trustees have lived experience of the pressures of homelessness, so everyone is valued for their unique worth and is passionate about recognising stigma, challenging discrimination and promoting resilience. 

The marker of our success is two-fold: positive outcomes for both beneficiaries and volunteers:

We help improve wellbeing by supporting beneficiaries to access health services and maximise income by liaising with the DWP and Citizens Advice.

We help people to rebuild their confidence and make social connections.

We attend weekly meetings with the council’s homelessness team and Calico’s accommodation finding service.

The free befriending we offer is person-centred: beneficiaries identify their own priorities and we work alongside them to achieve these.

Befriending meetings take place a minimum of once a week and examples include:

  • sharing a walk, coffee and chat  
  • help engaging with local community groups 
  • support to attending appointments (eg. to improve mental / physical health)
  • advocacy with local services (e.g. support with housing and benefits)
  • support with independent living skills (e.g. managing a household budget, cooking) 
  • help and support to enter into detox and on to rehab 
'I have been supported by Let's BeFriends for 18 months. It's been good. It has helped me with getting housing and then using charities to get things like carpets for my new home. It has also been good to be helped to go out to places like Positive Futures. They have helped me to get my own flat and live independently.'
Carol
Befriendee/Beneficiary

Our management committee

Dusty Thomas

I have been working with community organisations for 15 years. I'm currently part of the facilitation team at The Morecambe Bay Poverty Truth Commission, I'm Co-chair of Lancaster District Food Justice Partnership and I'm a Trustee with Eggcup and Morecambe Bay Food Bank.

Julie Ridgway

I am a former project coordinator and befriender and I'm now part of the management committee. Beyond volunteering, I enjoy being outside in nature with my dog Bonnie and spending time with friends cooking and sharing good food.

Hannah Lodge

I am Chair of Let's BeFriends. After completing rehab, I decided I would like to do voluntary work and I enjoy using my lived experience to support others. I was one of the first befrienders and built my confidence supporting three beneficiaries before acting as Volunteer Coordinator and becoming a trustee.

Grahame Legg

Hi, my name is Grahame, I have worked for a local homeless charity for several years and it's my ambition to see homeless people settled in a permanent home.

Andrew Bryant

I am 57, discovering life after addiction. I enjoy working with homeless people along with my love of music, films, poetry and the outdoors.

Caroline Jackson

I am a retired teacher and long time Lancaster resident. I experienced homelessness in my childhood. As a local councillor previously responsible for housing and homelessness and as a Poverty Truth Commission member, I recognised the need to support rough sleepers in order that they did not return to the streets.

Our Partners

Let’s BeFriends
email: info@letsbefriends.org.uk   phone: 07598993669
Let’s BeFriends is a Registered Charity in England and Wales, Number 1199161.

Copyright © 2023. Let’s BeFriends. All rights reserved.