Public asked to help tackle homelessness

Wigan Council's poster
Wigan Council's poster
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Council leaders have issued new guidance to the public on how to help curb the rising number of rough sleepers in the borough.

Posters have been dotted around the town which contain information on how residents can help identify cases of homelessness, as part of Wigan Council’s overhauled approach to tacking homelessness.

Ordinary citizens are now being asked to simply inform the council about anyone they see sleeping rough or know of anyone experiencing a housing crisis.

The new initiative is expected to keep thousands of residents off the streets of Wigan and comes as a new damning report revealed than 9,000 people are sleeping rough on the streets of the UK.

The Public Accounts Committee, who compiled the date, also announced that the homelessness crisis has risen by 134 percent since 2011.

Borough officials say the plans, which will see the council working more closely with the voluntary and private sector, will deliver more effective support and rehabilitation for the borough’s homeless and rough sleepers, by identifying and supporting those at risk as early as possible to prevent them reaching crisis point.

Coun Terry Halliwell, cabinet member for housing and welfare, has been leading the reforms.

He 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.

“Over the last four years, the number of prevented homelessness cases increased by 59 per cent and last year alone, almost 5,000 potential homeless cases were prevented.”

He added: “We have also made significant investments to help support homeless services through The Deal for Communities Investment Fund and will continue to work with providers to

deliver a cohesive approach so services can work together to better understand peoples circumstances and their requirements.

“Part of this understanding will be gathered by Homeless Champions, who we are looking to recruit by the end of January. They will support our town centre work during the day by checking in with people on our streets.”

A borough-wide outreach programme is also set to being two rehabilitation and support hubs to provide relevant services to the homeless.

The first is on course to open in Leigh by the end of January, with the Wigan hub scheduled to be operational by the end of next summer. There will be emergency access beds available for the homeless and borough-wide services will be available seven days a week.

The council advises that anyone who sees a homeless person of the streets to email roughsleep@wigan.gov.uk with as much information as possible, so that officers can investigate.

In addition, anyone who finds themselves on the streets can ring the council’s out of hours service on 01942 828777.