Prevention best cure to homelessness in Warrington

Warrington Guardian: Prevention best cure to homelessness in Warrington Prevention best cure to homelessness in Warrington

TACKLING homelessness in Warrington was never going to be an easy challenge but the chairman of the Warrington Homelessness Commission argues that ‘prevention is the best form of cure’.

Nick Atkin, the independent chairman of the WHC, chaired a public debate on Friday in a bid to help tackle problems such as rough sleepers and homelessness in Warrington.

Mr Atkin, who has been chief executive of Halton Housing Trust for eight years, said: “We do not know what the extent of the problem is and that’s the purpose of the commission.

“We hope to work out the best ways of reducing homelessness and how to do that as effectively as possible.

“For me, the key thing is that this could happen to absolutely anyone in the UK. The average person is only three pay cheques away from being homeless.”

The Warrington Homelessness Commission, which was launched in October, is more than half way through its investigation into the problem.

A final report is expected to be published in February 2014, which will identify areas for improvement and make recommendations.

Mr Atkin called the WHC an ‘innovative’ solution that should help improve the lives of those who find themselves isolated and living on the streets.

It also hopes to tackle a lot of the issues and overcome the barriers before it reaches the point of homelessness.

Mr Atkin added: “It’s about having an open and informative debate in Warrington on the issue.”

The commission sought key representatives from a number of sectors to participate in the debate.

A number of expert witnesses presented evidence on Friday to the WHC including Paul Connery from charity Homeless Link and Tommy Allman, who was a rough sleeper for 20 years.

The commission comprises of 14 members including Clr David Keane, Clr Pat Wright, Clr Paul Bretherton, Dr Rita Robertson, director of public health at Warrington Borough Council, and Peter Mercer, chief executive at Golden Gates Housing.

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