500 people sleeping rough on the streets of Wigan

More than 500 Wiganers have reported themselves homeless in the past year, with a fifth under the age of 25.

A Freedom of Information request to the town hall revealed the shocking levels of people who have approached the council for help after being forced onto the streets.

Mayor of Greater Manchester and former Leigh MP Andy Burnham has already pledged that one of his main goals is to tackle the crisis, which is becoming increasingly evident across the UK.

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Now Wigan MP, Lisa Nandy, is joining the swell of politicians speaking out against the growing pressures on young and vulnerable people securing a long-term home.

Ms Nandy said: “The rise in homelessness – especially among younger and more vulnerable people – is an absolute disgrace. Since 2010, the figure has more than doubled as a direct result of Conservative policies. Yet again, this government is prioritising tax breaks to millionaires ahead of those struggling to make ends meet.

“Cuts to housing support for 18 to 21-year-olds, the introduction of Universal Credit, the Bedroom Tax – the list of damaging policies from this Government is endless.

“Here in Wigan, we have seen the consequence, with lengthening queues at the Brick and an increase in the number of children growing up in poverty.

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“During my time working with young homeless people before I came into Parliament, I saw the damaging impact that these kind of cuts can have. Today, the problem is worse than ever.

“As the MP for Wigan, I have challenged the Government over the ongoing reductions to housing benefit and the impact it would have on people here in Wigan, and I will continue to fight to protect local residents.”

Homelessness charity, The Brick, which provides a number of support services for those living on the street, has already launched a campaign to raise money for a “super hub”, where those without a permanent address can learn life skills and have a roof over their head while they get back on their feet.

The charity has reported to have seen a surge in the number of people calling on them for help.

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Chief executive of The Brick, Kathleen Pitt, said: “The increasing number of homeless people in the borough is worrying and it is a priority for The Brick to continue working with the council and other organisations to help get people back on their feet and ultimately put an end to homelessness.

“We support anyone - young or old - who comes through our doors; whether that is to provide them with a hot meal, helping find accommodation, attending our support groups, referring them to health services, helping find a job and much more with no judgement just support.

“We believe no one in our community should be left behind, so if you know of anyone who may be struggling, please tell them to get in touch with us so we can help to rebuild their lives.”