A homelessness campaigner has now set his sights on Preston to launch the next venture for his community of volunteers.
‘United Preston,’ is part of Chris Conway’s next step in creating a wider community of like-minded people who want to help the homeless across the North-West and change the stigma associated with rough sleepers.
The 25-year-old, who founded ‘United Blackpool’ along with Mike Butcher, has been tackling Blackpool’s homelessness crisis since it was established last August.
The team of more than 40 volunteers provide food, clothing and information to the vulnerable across Blackpool town centre every Monday and Thursday as part of their ‘community watch’. Medical professionals are also on hand to offer free health checks.
Chris, also works as a relief signaller for Network Rail at Bamber Bridge, Preston. He has decided to expand due to the overwhelming amount of volunteers he has been met with since promoting ‘United Blackpool’ on social media. He said: “We set up a Facebook page after a couple of months just to put out the word about who we are and what we do, then people started sharing our videos and we got bigger and bigger.”
Since starting his ‘community watch’, Chris has helped 12 homeless people off the streets and into rented accommodation.
Chris explained how this has changed their lives for the better, he said: “A big company paid for a B&B in the resort for two months over Christmas. This helped the five people who were placed there to get back on their feet and have a registered address which enabled them to start claiming the benefits they’re entitled to.”
Chris plans to launch the group by summer, but in the meantime he encourages locals to ‘break the social stigma’ – that all homeless people are after is money for drugs and alcohol. He said: “The biggest thing that anyone can do for society is have a conversation, a five-minute conversation with a homeless person will change their lives, I guarantee it.”
For more information and to follow/ get involved with Chris and his team, follow United Blackpool’s Facebook Group: