'I would be dead if it wasn't for caring duo'

Chris Smalley was homeless and is happy to be off the streets, living in shared tenancy in Platt Bridge, Wigan, thanks Lara Nocker, left, and Dawn French, right, founders of the newly registered charity Helping the Homeless.
Chris Smalley was homeless and is happy to be off the streets, living in shared tenancy in Platt Bridge, Wigan, thanks Lara Nocker, left, and Dawn French, right, founders of the newly registered charity Helping the Homeless.

A Wigan man who has spent years living on the streets has told how the borough’s newest charity saved his life and found him a place to live.

Chris Smalley was rushed to hospital by Dawn French and Lana Nocker from Helping the Homeless after they found him underneath the stairs at nightclub Maximes with terrible abscesses on his leg.

Doctors told him he would not have survived until morning had he remained in his makeshift shelter and not been taken to get medical help.

Helping the Homeless, which has just registered as a charity, has continued supporting Chris and helped him move into a shared rental property in Platt Bridge.

He is also being given support to kick addictions which developed while he was homeless and showered Dawn and Lana with praise for turning his life around.

Chris, 47, said: “I think these two were sent from heaven. I would be dead if it wasn’t for them, in my eyes I owe them a lot. I was sleeping rough under the steps at Maximes and I was ill. I had abscesses in my groin through drugs, they had burst and I couldn’t physically go anywhere.

“They got me to hospital where the doctors said if I had stayed that night I would have died from the poison coming out of my leg.

“While I was in hospital they made a phone call and got me somewhere to live. I’d never got anywhere before that, doors had been shut in my face.

“Dawn and Lana are absolutely brilliant. Before I met them I regularly had suicidal thoughts, I had nowhere to go and a raging drug habit because of the madness of being on the streets and I couldn’t get help anywhere.

“They’re also really humble. I can’t praise them enough.”

Chris had three operations during a 12-day stay in hospital which started on March 17 and ended with his journey to a rented room of his own.

He says the last time he had fixed accommodation before that was in 2010 and in recent years his life had spiralled downhill with time on the streets broken up by a prison spell.

He is now on a methadone prescription for his drug problems but says he wants to get completely clean.

He is also looking forward to the future and wants to join the ranks of Helping the Homeless so he can guide other people out of being homeless in the same way he was helped.

He said: “They are now giving me the after support I need to carry on.

“It’s exciting but actually a bit scary as well because I lost my last property seven years ago. There are so many things I need to learn again and get back.

“I’m now about helping people off the streets as well. There are more people on the streets in Wigan than a lot of people realise. I think a lot of people turn a blind eye to it, they help a bit if they want to.

“Something like Helping the Homeless is exactly what’s needed. It has been a long time coming and now it’s here we don’t want to lose it.”
For more information about the charity, follow them on Twitter @Helpingthehome5