Project launched to tackle Wigan's homelessness crisis

Homeless champions at the conference held at The Edge this week, including Donna Hall and Andy Burnham
Homeless champions at the conference held at The Edge this week, including Donna Hall and Andy Burnham

A new programme dedicated to putting the borough’s homeless and rough sleepers in touch with support services has been launched.

Wigan Council announced the roll out of its Homeless Champion programme at the end of this week’s Healthy Wigan Partnership Conference, where Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, was a speaker.

The new approach will work hand in hand with the town hall’s over-arching response to homelessness and see trained volunteers checking in with people on the streets on a daily basis to gain understanding surrounding their circumstances and to offer appropriate support.

Council chief executive Donna Hall said: “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.

“We’ve shown a consistent increase in the number of potential homeless cases prevented over the years but we also understand that there are some people who have reached crisis stage and need immediate support.

“This is why we have rolled out the Homeless Champion programme. By having people on the ground, meeting people face-to-face and finding out more about why individuals have found themselves on the streets, we can ensure people receive support tailored to their needs.

“The borough-wide programme will operate out of hours and weekends and volunteers will undergo appropriate training and checks. We look forward to people benefitting from this new outreach approach and hope to see more people engaged with local service provision.”

David Scrivens, one of the borough’s Homeless Champions, explained why he decided to volunteer. He said: “It’s a great idea to be more involved with people on the street in a face-to-face way, particularly the vulnerable who may have no idea there is help out there.

“If I can make a difference by getting to know our homeless and rough sleepers to help them find the right path for advice to ultimately build a better life, then I think this programme is more than worthwhile. We all lead busy lives, but we should stop and think of those who need our help most.”

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 officers will investigate.

Callers will also receive an update on the situation.

Those who find themselves on the streets can also ring our out of hour’s service on: 01942 828777.