Rise in homeless on Wigan's streets

The number of homeless people sleeping on Wigan streets has shot up six-fold in the past seven years, shocking figures reveal.
The number of people sleeping rough in Wigan has risen six-foldThe number of people sleeping rough in Wigan has risen six-fold
The number of people sleeping rough in Wigan has risen six-fold

A report conducted by the Ministry of housing, communities and local government, has highlighted the rapidly-growing homelessness crisis both nationally and in the borough.

The authority has collected a snapshot of street sleepers taken by local authorities each autumn since 2010 to 2017, with Wigan reporting six homeless people on the streets at the time of the first count and 30 at the same point seven years later.

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Through the years there have peaks and troughs regarding these figures, but the most notable increase is the difference between 2015, where three homeless people were counted on the streets, and just 12 months later when this figure had shot up to 28.

Stuart Cowley, director for adult social care at Wigan Council, said: “Over the last few years we have collated a much more robust data set on rough sleeps than ever before, meaning we now have a much more accurate picture than previous years.

“The recent increase in reports of rough sleeping in the borough reflects a trend across Greater Manchester and nationally.”

Greater Manchester Mayor and former Leigh MP Andy Burnham has already pledged to tackle the crisis on a regional level.

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After pledging £1.8m of funding to help eliminate the problem in the area, Mr Burnham also pledged to open up 41 of the region’s fire stations to help homeless people - including Wigan, Hindley, Leigh and Atherton.

He said that Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue will be partnering with community and voluntary groups to provide a range of services such as food and drink.

Mr Cowley, at Wigan Council, added: “Wigan is working extremely hard to proactively tackle this issue with a number of initiatives including placing more people under cold weather provision and ensuring everyone placed has a move on plan and support.

“Together with colleagues from nine other Greater Manchester boroughs we have secured social impact bond funding to tackle homelessness and entrenched rough sleeping.

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“We are working with our partners at The Brick project to deliver the scheme which will see individuals supported into housing by Asset Coaches and Independent Living Mentors.

“Shortly we will be opening the first of two emergency accommodation hubs with wrap around support in the borough. This is a new and innovative approach aimed at supporting people with complex needs.

“We have also developed strong relationships with partner agencies, both voluntary and statutory to ensure we meet individual’s needs, achieve the best outcomes for clients and deliver a joined up approach to homelessness.”

Nationally, the homelessness crisis is growing ever-more concerning, with figures showing a 91 per cent increase in a seven-year period.

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In 2010 there were 1,768 people sleeping rough at the time of the survey, however, this figure had shot up to 4,751 by autumn 2017.

Figures show that out of the thousands living on the streets, only 14 per cent were women.

Almost one in five (16 per cent) were EU nationals from outside the UK, four per cent were non-EU immigrant s and eight per cent were young people aged between 18 and 25 years old.