A NEW programme has been rolled out to help homeless and rough sleepers in the borough.

Wigan Council has launched its Homeless Champion programme which will involve trained volunteers checking people on the streets daily to get a better understanding of their circumstances and to provide more support.

The programme was announced in the council’s Healthy Wigan Partnership Conference with Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham in attendance.

David Scrivens, one of the borough’s Homeless Champions, said: “It is a great idea to be more involved with people on the street in a face-to-face way, particularly the vulnerable who may have no idea there is help out there.

“If I can make a difference by getting to know our homeless and rough sleepers to help them find the right path for advice to ultimately build a better life, then I think this programme is more than worthwhile.

"We all lead busy lives but we should stop and think of those who need our help most.”

The Homeless Champions follows the local authority’s previous homelessness work in The Deal for Communities Investment Fund and schemes in the voluntary and third sector.

Hubs in Leigh and Wigan are also being set up to provide emergency access beds and bespoke support for people.

Chief executive of Wigan Council, Donna Hall, 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.

“We have shown a consistent increase in the number of potential homeless cases prevented over the years but we also understand that there are some people who have reached crisis stage and need immediate support.

“This is why we have rolled out the Homeless Champion programme.

"By having people on the ground, meeting people face-to-face and finding out more about why individuals have found themselves on the streets, we can ensure people receive support tailored to their needs."

The council is urging people to e-mail roughsleep@wigan.gov.uk if they see a homeless person with as much information about them such as their location as possible.

Officers will investigate and update the person who has reported it about their situation.

People on the streets can ring the local authority’s out of hours service number on 01942 828777.