WE can change the face of the town forever, says the boss of one of Bolton's most prominent charities.
But chief executive Dave Bagley says Urban Outreach needs help from Bolton Council and the borough’s churches.
The charity hosted its first conference in the Premier Suite at the Reebok Stadium, celebrating the relationships it has with organisations such as Bolton Council, Bolton at Home and the Church of England.
Mr Bagley highlighted the charity’s core projects, including Winter Watch, which provides homeless support between January and March; Store House, a weekly food parcel service, and OARS and Eve’s Space, services which help male and female offenders.
Mr Bagley said: “There is a future in our town. Some people in our town are hurting and are in need of help.
“If we join together to consider the needs of our communities and not organisations, there is a possibility that we can overturn some of these hardships and restore hope to our town.
“I believe in this town and I believe that we together are going to change the face of this town forever.”
Mr Bagley made special reference to Urban Outreach’s Reach Out scheme, which offers support to female sex workers in Bolton and helps them rebuild their lives after leaving the industry.
In working with the council and the police, Mr Bagley explained how the charity has helped cut the number of known prostitutes in Bolton from 170 in 2003 to 15 today.
Sean Harriss, chief executive of Bolton Council, said: “Urban Outreach is a key partner of the council.
“They deal with people with some of the biggest problems and they have got a track record. Over the years they have grown and take on more and more projects. When they take on new things they always seem to be successful.
“I’m really pleased they have put this on because they are modest and don’t normally promote themselves hugely.”
The Bishop of Bolton, the Rt Rev Chris Edmondson, said: “From very small beginnings, it is amazing that they have built up to such a point today.
“I would love it if even more people got involved and played their part so the work can expand even more.”
Jon Lord, chief executive of Bolton at Home, said: “Partnership is one of the most important things that any organisation can have.
“Urban Outreach is the most important partner we have had. Their flexibility and willingness to take on any task means we can do great work together.”
The Reebok Stadium was chosen as the venue for Urban Outreach’s first conference after Bolton Wanderers picked the group as their nominated charity for the year.
l Urban Outreach was founded in 1990 by Mr Bagley to help disadvantaged and vulnerable people in Bolton.