Published Monday 12 December 2022 at 16:02
As the cold weather takes its toll and temperatures drop dramatically, Blackburn with Darwen’s homeless pods are back up and running for those in need.
As part of the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP), Blackburn with Darwen Council’s shelters are keeping the borough’s most vulnerable off the streets.
The pods based on the former Shadsworth Leisure Centre car park offer a warm place for homeless people to stay between the months of November to March and the team there offer further support in rehabilitation, making better futures.
Abdul Razaq, Director of Public Health said he welcomes the funding to keep the facilities up and running this winter.
“Homelessness is an issue that we are addressing positively and reducing the number of people on the streets is about making sure that we have the facilities for the health and wellbeing and welfare of those who need our support.
“The pods keep our residents safe and warm, where each pod has a bed, WC facilities, heating and cooking facilities in a homely environment. Wrap around support programmes are in place which help to provide a bridge for a better future.”
Since opening on November 14, Blackburn with Darwen’s rough sleeper number has reduced once again, hovering between 0 and 2 people, a significant reduction and positive progress from an average of 23 in 2019.
The Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, Councillor Phil Riley, said:
There is no reason that anyone from this borough should be living on the streets, we have the accommodation and support of every sort is available. We are working together to bring the best possible outcome to deliver a better future for our most vulnerable residents.
Stephen Richards, Housing Needs and Support Manager, said that the local community also deserves recognition and have been supportive of the local setting.
Only recently children from the School Council at Shadsworth Junior School’s visited the pods handing over Christmas gift packages to service users.
Members of the school council at Shadsworth Junior School with staff, with Stuart Grisdale HMO Compliance Officer, resident Charlie Showemimo and Abdul Razaq, Director of Public Health
The community have really taken this on board. At the beginning they were sceptical but since we have had people coming to drop off donations such as clothes and food. This is fantastic to see and with the support from the community we have the best support that we possibly can in Blackburn with Darwen. Without these pods people will freeze to death and we are making a difference to that by working together.
Neil Otley, Housing Needs Team Leader, said team work is vital for the service to succeed.
We also try to support lifestyle change, rough sleepers are perceived as not having a house or accommodation but it is much more than that it’s down to a chaotic lifestyle, we help with addictions and that means they have more of a chance of them not returning to rough sleeping. The variety of services that we have got involved brings everything together.
With support from the council, former rough sleeper, Charlie Showemimo is changing his life.
If it wasn’t for these pods I would still be sleeping in the back of a car or on the streets, I have been rough sleeping around Blackburn on and off for five years but with the support from the council and its services I am changing my life.
For further support on homelessness or if you are at risk of being homeless call the council’s support line 01254 585444.