Former Wigan mill to become homeless hub

The former Coops Building on Dorning Street
The former Coops Building on Dorning Street

Two new hubs – one each in Wigan and Leigh town centres – are a key part of the authority’s new homelessness strategy.

The Brick, part of the Queen’s Hall Action on Poverty charity, has been handed the operating contract for both facilities.

It is a borough-wide outreach service for rough sleepers, covering evenings and weekends, and just one of the measures being implemented from December to tackle homelessness.

The Brick has been officially appointed to deliver the borough’s homelessness and emergency accommodation services and will be working with the local authority to provide increased services to tackle and prevent rough sleeping.

It is understood the Wigan hub will be housed in the Coops business centre on Dorning Street as the town hall has submitted a planning application to convert a section of office space.

However, the authority has said it will not confirm the location of either hub as they will be operated on a referral rather than walk-in basis.

The Leigh site is already in operation, with its counterpart scheduled to open before the end of the year.

Documents submitted by the town hall reveal the hub will provide overnight accommodation for 13 along with dining and washing facilities.

Clinical rooms will be formed on another floor.

The two sites will provide overnight accommodation along with associated health and rehabilitation services.

Louise Green, operations director at The Brick, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen as the charity to deliver the homeless and support contract. By working with partner agencies and the council we will be able to assist more people transitioning through homelessness.

“This exciting new opportunity will ensure that the most vulnerable people in the borough are supported.”

The Coops building, close to Wigan’s bus and rail stations, currently houses the town’s drug and alcohol recovery services.

The council’s new strategy includes a borough-wide outreach service for rough sleepers and is designed to complement Greater Manchester initiatives, with the region’s mayor Andy Burnham having pledged to end homelessness in the region by 2020.

As lead provider, The Brick’s staff will work alongside other local charities and services to provide seven-day accommodation and a programme of tailored support, the council said.

It is all part of the council’s approach to work more closely with the voluntary and private sector to invest in homelessness prevention services and keep people off the streets.

Coun Terry Halliwell, cabinet member for housing and welfare, said: “We are so pleased to be working with The Brick and other partners to deliver more effective support and rehabilitation for our rough sleepers by identifying them earlier and preventing them reaching crisis point.

“This work is even more important as we go into winter.

“Everybody should be given the opportunity to live independently and we are committed to helping our residents have access to the right home at the right time.

“In the last year alone almost 5,000 potential homeless cases were prevented.

“We have made significant investments to help support homeless services and will continue to work with providers to deliver a cohesive approach so services can work together to better understand people’s circumstances and their needs.”

The council has also invested in its Homeless Champion programme which sees trained volunteers checking in with people on the streets on a daily basis to gain understanding surrounding people’s circumstances and to offer appropriate support.

If you see a homeless person on the streets, please email roughsleep@wigan.gov.uk with as much information as possible (including their location) and our officers will investigate. You will also receive an update on the situation.

Alternatively, our central duty team can be contacted out of hours on 01942 828777.