A dedicated new team will be hitting the streets of Rochdale to help tackle rough sleeping in the town centre.
Although the number of rough sleepers in the borough has fallen from 15 to 8 in recent years, the council is keen to step up its efforts to tackle the problem in partnership with local homelessness charity, Petrus Community.
2 new roles have been created for the initiative, which will be run as a 6-month pilot. The team, which is now in place, will be out and about on the streets speaking to all rough sleepers they encounter and offering any support they need.
Denis Skelton, Co-ordinator of Petrus Community, said: "Having a team dedicated entirely to outreach work with the homeless is a fantastic new addition to the many other support services we have in the borough. This new team has a lot of experience in this area of work and are already linked in with the many council-commissioned homeless support agencies across the borough, so they are in the best possible position to support people on the streets."
A number of support schemes are available for rough sleepers including help with accommodation and job training
The council works with a number of agencies across the borough to support people on the streets and those who are at risk of becoming homeless. Services provided in Rochdale include emergency accommodation, accommodation for people with complex needs, support with drug and alcohol problems and help with training and job hunting. There are also a number of day centres, including the Petrus Hub, which provides accommodation and advice on a wide range of issues including health, debt and benefits.
The new team will engage with people and direct them to one of the many support services available, depending on what their individual issues are.
'Homelessness is a complex issue, with no easy solution, but this is a step in the right direction'
Councillor Neil Emmott, cabinet member for housing and environment, said: "We recognise that homelessness is a serious issue and something that exists in towns and cities up and down the country. We're already working hard to prevent and tackle homelessness and this dedicated outreach team will really enhance what we do. As this team will be out and about every day, if vulnerable people don't want to engage initially, they can build up relationships of trust which might mean they seek support later on, at a time that is right for them. They will also be able to help people navigate the system and generally act as an advocate for them. Homelessness is a complex issue with no easy solution, but this is another step in the right direction."
Other local agencies which are working on the pilot include Greater Manchester Police, Sanctuary Trust, the Soup Kitchen and Pathways, soon to become Turning Point.
Members of the public who have concerns about rough sleepers can contact the Petrus Hub on: 01706 526289
Residents who would like to support people on the streets are asked not to give money to them directly. Find out more information about donating directly to local homelessness charities: