New aid for homeless

Louise Green and Anne Valentine-Tinsley, project workers at soon-to-begin The Brick Outreach Service in Leigh, with clients Felix and Craig at The Brick in Hallgate, Wigan
Louise Green and Anne Valentine-Tinsley, project workers at soon-to-begin The Brick Outreach Service in Leigh, with clients Felix and Craig at The Brick in Hallgate, Wigan

A WIGAN charity dedicated to helping the homeless has opened a new weekly drop-in centre in Leigh.

The Brick, based in the former Bricklayers Arms pub in Hallgate, will run the sessions offering help and advice to those who find themselves at risk of having to sleep on the streets at Leigh Library on Tuesday mornings from 10am to 12pm.

The charity, founded in 2008, has already had inquiries about its services from some of Leigh’s most vulnerable people since opening for the first time last week, and hopes to expand its operations in the future.

The centre in Wigan runs drop-in sessions four days a week, structured support programmes with the charity’s project workers helping those at risk of homelessness find secure accommodation or maintain existing tenancies if they are struggling to keep up with payments, and weekly sessions designed to help people back into the community through finding suitable work or training.

Project Administrator Jacky Chilman said: “There’s always been a need in Leigh for something to help homeless people, but it’s trying to address that need which is difficult.

“We’ve wanted to become bigger and transfer our work further afield for a while, but this is the first time we have been able to go and do something to offer more support to those who are homeless.

“Since we opened we’ve had a lot of feedback from agencies and people have already managed to find us to seek help, which is absolutely fantastic. We’ve leafletted and done a lot of work to get our name known in Leigh, and the library have been a big help in supporting us.

“We are looking to find our own building eventually so we can offer as many of our Wigan services in Leigh as possible, but it’s a long journey as a charity.”

The Brick was founded by the Queen’s Hall Methodist Church in 2004 after plans for a hostel in Wigan fell through and the minister decided to intervene by building a centre.

Jacky says she expects the charity to be increasingly busy over the coming months due to the recession.

She said: “We have been busier, especially on the benefits side of things due to the reforms, and we always see an upwards trend after Christmas, especially for alcohol-fuelled problems.

“We are definitely seeing a few new faces every week. Sometimes it can be a quick fix, but more often than not we have to offer long-term support.”

For more information visit www.thebrick.org.uk