Pauline Town MBE. That’s an honour that Pauline never expected and never asked for, but one that is thoroughly deserved. What a year it has been for her. Pauline runs the Station Hotel in Ashton-Under-Lyne – a pub which also operates as the town’s We Shall Overcome Hub.

It all started in 2013, when a man named Ben knocked on the door of the pub in 2013. He struggled with mental health issues, had learning difficulties, and was begging on the street. Pauline let him come in for a cup of tea and spent over five months setting up his personal independence payments and accommodation.

Pauline has now helped more than 200 homeless people off the streets and gives out around 100 packed lunches a day. She is, to put it simply, and absolute inspiration. Last year, Tameside Council’s Homelessness Team set up the Town House (named after Pauline) in Ashton on Burlington Street.

The Town House acts as a community hub and overnight hostel, providing support and care to people who are homeless.

The Homelessness Team has done tremendous work in helping people in the Borough. The A Bed Every Night programme has been a fantastic success. The council recorded a drop in rough sleeping between 2018 to 2019 of 86%, and in April of this year no rough sleepers were recorded in Tameside. It is hard to overstate this achievement, and it is down to the hard work of people like Pauline and the Council.

I strongly believe that the innovative work of the Homelessness Team can be applied across the country. The team focusses on tailoring services to individuals’ needs and recognises that ongoing support is crucial to prevent people falling back into rough sleeping.

Homelessness is complex, and should be tackled with empathy, organisation, and long-term care. Last year, Crisis estimated that around 200,000 people nationally were experiencing core homelessness – the most severe form of homelessness.

Over the next few months, as furlough ends and the impact of the pandemic on the economy and jobs is truly felt, we need to be even more prepared to help those in need. Local authority and Government spending must be increased, and the Government needs to recognise the work of councils such as Tameside and individuals like Pauline to champion similar projects across the country.

The future after the pandemic is uncertain, but if we learn from people like Pauline, and schemes like A Bed Every Night, I’m certain that we can build a society where we all look out for one another and are proud to help those most in need.

Constituency Office Address

Town Hall, Market Street, Denton, M34 2AP

Parliamentary Office Address

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA