High-tech aid for rough sleepers

A rough sleeper
A rough sleeper

A REVOLUTIONARY piece of technology is aiming to get Wigan’s homeless off the streets for Christmas.

The innovative Smartphone application, by Riverside social housing providers, will allow locals to alert a specialist scheme by mobile phone if they spot someone sleeping rough in the borough.

Focusing specifically on people who are bedding down on the streets, the helpline uses QR scanner technology (similar to a barcode) so that people can alert the organisation when they spot a rough-sleeper.

They can then, in turn, provide a rapid response by the outreach team who go out onto the streets to find them to try and help them.

And complementary to this is the service provided by Riverside called No Second Night Out which aims to stop Wiganers having to spend more than necessary sleeping without shelter.

John, from Wigan, is a qualified professional and was helped by Riverside’s No Second Night Out service.

He said: “I developed alcohol problems over the course of a few years and ended up sleeping rough in my car for eight weeks.

“I finally managed to get help and Riverside offered me an emergency bed in their Wigan project.

“I was really surprised at the support I’ve been given in just a few days as I thought that a professional person like me wouldn’t qualify for help even if I was homeless. It’s opened up my eyes to the help there is, including for my drinking and I’m now getting help to sort out my housing”

Eleanor Smith, Riverside’s manager for the scheme, said: “No Second Night Out is a partnership that is happening now between Wigan and Leigh Housing, Riverside ECHG and the Brick.

“The partnership has worked with 49 people from April to September. The scheme in Wigan has emergency housing which enables people to be quickly accommodated.

“People across Wigan can play their part by either ringing the helpline 0345 112 8128 or using their QR code on their SmartPhones to help us identify a rough-sleeper they are concerned about.”

Founder of The Brick, Wigan’s homeless organisation, Trish Green said: “The App is a way of people reporting a rough-sleeper and getting help for them quickly.

“It is scanned onto your phone so that you always have it available and is a modern way of dealing with an old problem.

“The Brick Homeless Project in Wigan works closely with No Second Night Out Greater Manchester and any rough-sleepers identified in Wigan and either rung through to them or by use of the app, is passed to us so that our workers can visit the area and try to help them.

“Once contact is made, an assessment is completed to identify the best housing options for each individual.”