One person sleeping rough on our streets is one too many | Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar column

Happy New Year to each and every one of you, hopefully you will have had the opportunity to spend time with loved ones and recharge your batteries.

For many, routine has already set in and the festive period seems a distant memory.

The New Year normally means a new start, unfortunately the threat of Omicron is still with us and we need to continue to be cautious.

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New Year's Day was noticeably mild but over the past few days the temperatures have started to drop again. January can be a difficult time for many, and we need to keep a watchful eye in order to help those that need it.

Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar

Sadly, there are vulnerable people who due to wide-ranging factors end up in difficulty and in need of support.

Sleeping rough on the streets is an issue that affects communities across the country.

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Unfortunately, our borough is no different and the council continues to work with partners to help tackle this issue.

As an administration we are continuously developing relationships with key stakeholders, service providers and community organisations to concentrate our efforts in areas where they are most needed.

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The council operates the A Bed Every Night scheme for those at risk of street homelessness in Burnley.

This service delivered through our partners is an initiative to ensure that anyone who is rough sleeping or threatened with street homelessness is provided with safe, warm and secure temporary accommodation and support whilst we seek to help them find a more permanent solution.

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There are also numerous voluntary, community and faith organisations across the borough that do some fantastic work supporting vulnerable groups.

I spent some time with the Charity Benefit Mankind on New Year's Day, providing hot meals, winter packs and signposting them to services.

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In my view, just one person sleeping rough on our streets is one too many, however having been out on the streets on New Year's Day and speaking to key individuals it was clear that the collective effort is having a positive impact.

The strategies we have in place are working and I would like to thank all those volunteers who make a difference every day to help others.

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I also recognise that there is always more than can be done.

If you know someone who is homeless, sleeping rough or in danger of not having somewhere to sleep please encourage them to get in touch with the council.

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This is even more important now that winter is setting in and temperatures are dropping.

When the temperature drops below zero degrees the council will activate what is known as the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol which means we will find emergency accommodation for anyone who needs it.

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People should either go to Burnley Town Hall during office hours or phone 01282 425011 at any time.

We have an out of hours service which will pick up calls and an operator will be able to help find emergency accommodation if needed.

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You can also call out of hours only on 01254 356535.