A Wigan charity dedicated to getting people off the streets and turning their lives around is back.
Helping the Homeless Wigan was forced to wind up its operations last October after more than a year of supporting some of the borough’s most vulnerable people.
However, Kitt Green residents and founders Dawn French and Lana Nocker were unable to walk away entirely and are now re-launching the charity.
They say they can still see a need for their services, which will focus on providing support and preventing people ending up sleeping rough.
In a bid to put Helping the Homeless Wigan on an even financial keel trustee Jessica Murdoch is taking on a managerial role to bring some business expertise to its running.
However, the street kitchens which became a regular feature of Market Place doling out hot food and drinks as well as warm clothes and blankets will not, for now at least, be brought back.
Dawn said: “We’ve continued to do a bit of work with homeless people since the charity closed but we decided to bring it back after an event at Joshua’s Den which was such a success.
“We’re needed out there. We are seeing how things seem to be going backwards with more people on the streets. I’m absolutely made up about getting started again. We will be going out on the streets checking on people’s wellbeing and linking them back into services.
“We will provide help with benefits, drug and alcohol treatments and doctors’ appointments and we’ll also re-establish our conneections with estate agents and housing providers.
“Lana and I are very hands on and we were lacking on the business side last time so we’re delighted Jessica is on board because she brings a lot of experience. We’ve lived and learned and made a few mistakes along the way but hopefully we will be able to sustain ourselves.”
Lana added: “It’s great news the charity is back, I’ve missed it to be honest. I think our approach is needed. Some of the people we’ve helped are slowly drifting back towards the streets because the support from us hasn’t been there.
“We’ve seen the number of people sleeping rough and we are going to get out there and start doing what we do.”
Helping the Homeless Wigan is arranging a meeting for potential volunteers later this month and is also searching for town centre premises.
The charity will fund-raise for its work and also hopes to attract business backing as well as support from the public sector.
Chair Jessica, who is taking a sabbatical from her business Imago Training to take on the manager’s role, said: “We’re applying for external funding and we’re hoping to partner with organisations across Greater Manchester.
“Dawn and Lana have an incredible passion for working with homeless people and they trust them. Their approach is the way forward and I will be teaching and mentoring them to help them grow as well as learning from them.”
Dawn is also planning to get homeless people’s voices heard directly by running a podcast giving a platform for those on the streets to speak.
She said: “We need to get their voices heard because there’s a lot of stigma around being homeless.
“You get ignored and become invisible, but everyone on the street is an individual. They all have their own stories and every story matters.”
The volunteer event is at Tesco at Central Park on January 28 from 11am until 2pm.
For more information visit www.helpingthehomelesscharity.co.uk/