Caption: Asda’s Christine Blower handing food over to CGM CRC’s Nadine Roberts.
Bolton probation has launched a homeless hub to help offenders who are homeless or in unstable accommodation.
The Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company supervises people released from prison on licence and individuals sentenced by the courts to a range of community-based orders.
CGM CRC’s Bolton office, in Nautica House, launched the hub last month. It runs a drop-in centre for four hours every Wednesday afternoon which includes wrap around services provided by partner agencies and gives people the chance to access a foodbank provided by Asda.
Nadine Roberts, a CGM CRC case manager, has been working in probation in the town for more than 20 years and was tasked with setting up the hub.
There are currently 429 people in Bolton on Community Orders and a further 134 on licence from custody, as well as 86 on post sentence supervision – a new initiative supporting those released from short prison sentences.
She said: “More of our service users are coming to us as homeless. That can mean they are sofa surfing or are actually street homeless, and this obviously presents serious difficulties to making progress.
“To make positive change, the research, our experience and common sense shows that you need settled accommodation, support and belief in a goal.
“The idea behind the hub is that homeless people tend to live chaotic lifestyles, often they don’t have a watch and things we take for granted. Expecting them to turn up at 9.15am for a fixed appointment is never going to work.
“By holding a drop-in centre, it removes one of those barriers to successful completion and also enables us to bring in wrap around services to help engage people and give them a route towards a more stable lifestyle.”
The hub is attended by housing support and drug services, and other partner agencies are due to participate. Attendees can also access computers, so they can process benefit claims, work on cvs and register housing requests.
Nadine wrote to all the local supermarkets to ask for support and was delighted when Asda responded positively.
She said: “They have donated a significant amount of long-lasting food. It’s so important because that gives an added reason for offenders to attend and even more crucially provides them with quality food.”
Christine Baldwin, Asda’s community champion at the Bolton store in Moss Bank Way, said: “We know there is a genuine need because we see homeless people in our store and the surrounding area and we were keen to do something to help.
“When Nadine contacted us and said probation was opening up its premises to support homeless people, which is a lovely gesture, we were only too happy to back the initiative.”