AN ORGANISATION which helps vulnerable and marginalized people in the Weymouth and Portland area has been declared 'one of the top 20 charities in the country' at a national awards ceremony.

The Lantern Trust made the shortlist at the GSK IMPACT Awards, which in partnership with The King's Fund provides funding, training and development for charities doing excellent work.

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In making the top 20, The Lantern Trust secured a £4,000 grant from The King’s Fund, an independent think tank established in 1897.

The judges said: “To be one of only 20 shortlisted organisations is recognition of The Lantern Trust’s important work and is an enormous achievement.

“The GSK IMPACT Awards have been running since 1997, with over 350 applications each year from national and local charities, all of which demonstrate an impressive commitment to the health and wellbeing of their communities.”

The Lantern Trust helps rough sleepers with health provision and assists residents unwilling to attend medical appointments, in addition to helping with housing solutions.

Mike Graham, Chief Executive Officer of The Lantern Trust, said engagement with the charity was high because services are delivered where the individual feels the most comfortable. The charity assists rough sleepers, those on the verge of losing their homes and people distrustful of traditional authority figures.

One man who felt unwell visited the charity instead of a medical practice. On-site healthcare staff used an ECG machine to ascertain he was having a heart attack and he agreed to go to hospital. He has since made a good recovery.

Mr Graham said: “The work of The Lantern Trust can only happen with the secure source funding available from Dorset Council.

“It means we work with people who do not traditionally trust officials like people in health care or the council due to various trauma which they may have experienced in their lives.

“We build trust and lasting relationships with people to prevent more serious issues and can intervene and offer assistance and help before problems become too big."

Councillor Graham Carr-Jones, Portfolio Holder for Housing, said The Lantern Trust is a service committed to helping some of the most vulnerable.

He said: “It is so good that a charity which started so simply and has grown to include services for people in need, has been honoured in such a way."