Two local women visited Rochdale, Preston and Lancaster at the weekend to distribute to the homeless essential items from underwear to sleeping bags.

Originally Valerie Miller and Rebecca Varley also intended visiting Liverpool and Blackpool, but ferry cancellations because of stormy weather meant plans had to change. Sadly, finding homeless people is not hard.

Speaking as they boarded the boat at Heysham yesterday (Monday), Valerie said the trip had gone very well and they were ’over the moon’ with the response.

Valerie, who runs Mother T’s community centre in Laxey, has shown remarkable commitment to understanding the homeless experience.

Four years ago, she spent three weeks ’couch surfing’ from Liverpool to London ’spending a few days in all the big cities,’ she said.

’I spent my days on the streets with a dictaphone, gathering data for a book I had began writing earlier that year about homelessness in the UK.

’I was particularly interested in discovering the backgrounds of individuals and how they became to live on the streets.

’I had set out to understand the problem as to effectively understand the solution.

’I discovered the issue was significantly more complex than I had imagined.

’The combination of spiralling rent, a faulty benefits system, lack of social housing and the breakdown of mental health provision meant that numbers have been growing at a frightening rate.

’There has been a 165% rise in homelessness since 2010. Between 4,000 and 5,000 people sleep on the streets on any given night although the number of people who do not have a secure, permanent home is significantly higher including 130,000 children.

’There is an optimistic number of charities, organisations, initiatives and individuals carrying out extraordinary work to help the homeless, but proper resourcing of government funding is necessary if we are to end homelessness.

’This appears to be recognised in the government’s rough sleeping strategy that aims to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and end it by 2027 . Last year we saw the first decrease of the decade with a 2% drop  (74 people) - this goal is achievable, but only with the right level of investment and all hands on deck!’

She thanked the Steam Packet for its assistance with transport.