Bury’s communities have rallied this winter to help rough sleepers off the streets.
Supported by Greater Manchester’s A Bed Every Night - an initiative which runs to the end of April – the scheme provides a safe place to sleep, hot food, a shower and targeted support.
Held at the Freedom Church, Bury, A Bed Every Night has helped 10 long-term rough sleepers into temporary accommodation and many of those are now in more permanent homes.
Glen Sharples from Whitefield is just 28. After falling out with his family he found himself with nowhere to turn. "I crashed on friends’ sofas for almost two months, but with their own family commitments, it was never a long-term option. I spent a few nights on the street before turning to Bury Council’s accommodation service who helped me find shelter at the Freedom Church."
Glen had a bed every night for seven weeks, thanks to the Greater Manchester-led scheme and on the 10 January he was offered a room in a shared supported housing.
He added: “It’s just temporary accommodation, but the Housing, Employment and New opportunities (HEN) project is helping me to find something more permanent and supporting me to access education and training to find work. The shelter really helped, and now I’m trying to support others by volunteering here four nights a week.”
Darren Durham, Director of the Winter Night Shelter, said: “We opened our doors to provide a night shelter for the rough sleepers of Bury on November 1st 2018. Through our partnership with Bury council and Calico we have assisted, facilitated and empowered our service users to restore broken relationships, find permanent housing and employment.
“There have been several of our service users who have left the service and now volunteer at the shelter, help set up at night, help with donations and volunteer as night workers.
“We have had a team of hard working volunteers who have committed to coming in and assisting the paid night workers to run the shelter; without them this wouldn’t have been possible.
“We have also been over overwhelmed with the generosity of the general public and local businesses wanting to donate clothes, bedding and food to the shelter to allow the service users to be able to have a complete change of clothing, a comfortable bed, warm food at night, breakfast, snacks and a packed lunch to send them on their way in the morning."
Cllr Eamonn O’Brien, Bury Council’s cabinet member for finance and housing, said: “Our team work tirelessly throughout the year with rough sleepers, referring agencies, accommodation providers and other partners to give support and assistance for people sleeping rough in Bury. During the winter, our resources are stretched and the introduction of ‘A Bed Every Night’ has helped us to get more people off the street and into our emergency shelter, moving them into accommodation with the support they need.”
Bury Council’s aim is to ensure that no one will sleep rough on the streets of Bury and the public can help by letting the council know about anyone they think may be rough sleeping by contacting 0161 253 5537 during normal office hours or 0161 253 6606 in the evening or at weekends.
Issued: 22 March 2019.