Published: Monday, 10th Dec 2018

An ambitious campaign to recruit 300 volunteers to help rough sleepers has been launched in Bolton.

Rough sleepersAn ambitious campaign to recruit 300 volunteers to help rough sleepers has been launched in Bolton.


The drive is led by ‘Bolton Homeless Alliance’ – a partnership between Bolton Council, Bolton Council of Mosques (BCoM), Urban Outreach, Homeless Aid UK and Al-Khair Foundation.

Volunteers are now needed to provide support and help at overnight shelters in the borough.


The Alliance help people who are rough sleeping or at imminent risk of rough sleeping.


Urban Outreach provide an evening cafe at weekends in winter through their Winter Watch initiative. However, currently there is no additional overnight provision.


Through the Bolton Homeless Alliance, both Urban Outreach and BCoM now plan to open overnight shelters to offer somewhere safe and warm for rough sleepers – but volunteers will be needed to help run them.


Full training will be provided to volunteers. All applicants must be aged 18 plus and will be subject to a DBS check.


Contact for more information and an application form.


The announcement follows the launch of ‘A Bed Every Night’ campaign by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham.


Bolton Council provides support and assistance for people rough sleeping with partners throughout the year and assist many people into temporary and other accommodation.


During the winter, the authority already activates its Severe Weather Emergency Protocol, in response to the potential risk to life when the weather is very cold.


However, additional assistance is needed, particularly during the winter months and for those where current provision does not meet their needs.


In support of the Mayor’s campaign, the council is working via the Alliance to extend the winter weather protocol to cover additional nights.


Bolton Council’s Executive Cabinet Member for Environmental Services, Cllr Nick Peel, said: “This is a real team effort and I am grateful to all our partners for working with us on this.


“Through this partnership we will be able to offer more help to more people who need it. And we know that the public want to help and often are not sure about how best to do it.


“The issue of homelessness is very complex. Giving money directly to people on the street is not usually a good idea – we know from all our outreach work that some people begging on the street are not homeless.


“Also giving money can just exacerbate an individual’s dependency on drugs or alcohol. And there are unfortunately some people who we have made every effort to support but the help is refused.


“There is no magical solution but becoming a volunteer is one real way you can make a difference - join up and give your time.”


Chief Executive of Urban Outreach, Dave Bagley, added: “All the partners in the Alliance are working together to tackle what is a very complex issue.


“Creating this partnership is a friendship and we’re seeking to extend the hand of friendship to a very vulnerable group of people.


“We want people to volunteer and they will get training from us and support.”


Bolton Council of Mosques Secretary, Imteyaz Ali, said: “We want to help and give something back into the community, and opening up a shelter is one way we can do this.


“Bolton has not got a massive issue with homelessness but of course there are people who need help.


“Anyone who wants to give something back – this is your opportunity.”


Billa Ahmed, from grassroots community group Homeless Aid UK, said it is clear from his outreach work that a lot of people want to help.


He said: “A lot of people want to give something back, particularly at this time of year – at Christmas and winter.


“We do outreach work every day in different locations in Bolton and across the region.


“We feed those in need at restaurants, food outlets and street kitchens and we know a lot of people want to help but don’t know how to.


“Volunteering is a way of helping genuine rough sleepers. We need people from all groups, ages, and communities to volunteer. You just need to be able to listen, work as part of a team and care about others.”