Take a look inside the new ‘pods’ as first guests welcomed in to help maintain Blackburn with Darwen’s commitment to a roof over every residents head

Published Thursday 17 December 2020 at 11:31

Ten individual pods set up at the former Shadsworth Leisure Centre site in Blackburn to as part of our SWEP (Severe Winter Emergency Protocol) have welcomed their first guests.

In this video with homeless and rough sleeper support worker, Tylah Pierce, she takes us inside one of the new pods to explain how the initiative will help. You can watch the interview here:

Tylah, who works for Inspire Drug and Alcohol Service, commissioned by the Council, works with those at risk of homelessness to provide essential help and support.

She said the pods will hopefully act as a stepping stone to a better life.

The ‘pod’ accommodation is now up and running with nine people already living at the new ‘village’.

The 10 self-contained pods will offer emergency accommodation for those who might find themselves with no-where to live in addition to the borough’s existing homeless accommodation.

We spoke to one of the residents on the day he moved into his new pod this week. He said:

I’m so grateful to have somewhere warm and dry to sleep. It’s actually really cosy in here. Things haven’t worked out with previous accommodation due to my own issues so I hope this will be the start of a new beginning for me.

He said he also feels safe knowing the site is protected by 24/7 security.

Residents living in the pods will benefit from wrap around support available at the site every day to help with addiction and mental health issues with a support network and pathway to a permanent home.

The current global pandemic has meant that the Council, like many others throughout the country, has had to re-think how it normally offers its emergency winter homeless accommodation with communal provision no longer an option exacerbated by a number of individuals being banned by all private and 3rd Sector providers.

The individual pods offering a safe space for the most vulnerable rough sleepers.

They are insulated, have a bed, toilet, shower, light and key-coded door and have onsite security. The pods, which are being paid for from Government funding, also have kitchen access and an office for support to run from.

Councillor Mustafa Desai, Executive Member for Adult Services and Prevention, said:

We never give up on anyone and have staff working every day offering our support – we don’t want anyone to be sleeping rough in Blackburn with Darwen and this facility, combined with our wider housing offer, means no one has to.

Cllr Desai added:

An awful lot of work has gone into making this happen and through engagement with rough sleepers we hope this will act as a stepping stone towards independent living. A smaller individual unit is sometimes what people are looking for.

Like many other Councils, providing emergency winter accommodation has been made more difficult by Covid as we cannot use communal accommodation. These pods will form part of the Council’s SWEP (Severe Weather Emergency Provision) offer with individual rooms also secured with the Salvation Army and Bowdem court.

We are working with many partners across Blackburn with Darwen to support people in their time of need. The pods complement our existing offer and we hope to help many more people on their journey out of homelessness.

This particular location will have the benefit of on-site security, outreach and support teams there seven days a week.

Residents will have access to everything the Council and key agencies can offer to improve their circumstances with the long-term aim of being supported to find secure and independent accommodation and get any help with addiction or mental health support that they need should they chose to accept it.

This year’s pandemic has put extra financial pressure on many people who were already struggling to get by.

Anyone who is worried about rent or mortgage arrears, debts or bills should seek help urgently.

There are many organisations, including Blackurn with Darwen Borough Council, which can provide support and may be able to prevent someone from losing the roof over their head.

The local authority also has an agreement with the Salvation Army that includes food, shower facilities and somewhere to store their property.

If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness and need advice or support please call 01254 585444 or visit www.Blackburn.gov.uk

If you need assistance outside of office hours, you can call: 07739 454978.




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