Wigan dad will walk to Isle of Wight in bid to raise £50k to help homeless people

A dad hoping to make a difference is taking on the mammoth challenge of walking from Wigan to the Isle of Wight.
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Matt Riley, 35, is setting up a community interest company to help people in the borough who are homeless or have mental health issues.

He has secured a building on Library Street, in Wigan town centre, which he wants to turn into emergency accommodation and a community space with a cafe.

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Matt Riley will walk from Wigan to the Isle of WightMatt Riley will walk from Wigan to the Isle of Wight
Matt Riley will walk from Wigan to the Isle of Wight
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But first he needs to raise £50,000 to transform the premises, so has decided to walk hundreds of miles in a fund-raising challenge.

The walk will cover hundreds of miles, with Matt planning to sleep on the streets and speak to homeless people along the way to find out what help they would like.

Matt, who lives in Springfield, said: “I’m just going for a wander. It’s going to take me roughly 25 days. I’m going to sleep out each night with the homeless in whichever town I land in. I will make my way to Southampton and get on a boat to the Isle of Wight to finish in Newport.

"I have got myself a sign saying I’m not begging and homeless and I’m raising awareness. I’m hoping it will drum up some fund-raising.

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"I’m hoping I will be able to speak to people and document what their problems might be, whether they are homeless or just want to sit down with me and have a chat.”

Matt will set off on Saturday, February 11 for the solo walk and will be carrying everything he needs along the route.

He was inspired to set up Jayden Hope CIC – which shares a name with his 12-year-old son Jayden – after having a difficult time personally last year.

He lost control of his dog accessories business after supply problems and a lengthy illness, his relationship ended, he became homeless and felt depressed.

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Things became so difficult that Matt considered suicide, but instead he went to homelessness and poverty charity The Brick, where he spent three hours speaking to someone about his problems.

Matt was able to get the support he needed to turn his life around and now wants to help others.

The idea for the CIC came after speaking to Andy Hewitt, landlord of The Ukulele pub in Wigan town centre, and Bryn councillor Steve Jones, who are working alongside him on the project.

Matt said: “The idea is to have some emergency accommodation for people that are homeless or need it. We will also have a community space like a cafe, so people can get help writing a CV and things like that.

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"We will be going out with people doing activities and programmes, trying to build better relationships for people who go round in the same circles and try to get them out of their comfort zone.”

Matt has already set up a website to provide information about the CIC and his fund-raising walk to the Isle of Wight, which can be found at refinerywigan.org.