SUPPORTERS of a homeless community group in Bolton have urged people not to forget a crisis on the streets after the Christmas and New Year period.

Homeless Aid UK officials have said that the pandemic has exacerbated existing issues, with more people using their foodbank than before.

Some service users have been unable to afford basic necessities and have had to decide between paying their bills or having food.

During the festive period, the community group delivered Christmas meals and provided gifts for the elderly, to help those need.

But volunteers say that “helping the homeless isn’t just for Christmas, because the homeless will still be there afterwards”.

Co-founder of the charity, Billa Ahmed, said: “We help feed the homeless every day and our team has been absolutely amazing, especially during Covid. But we were doing this before the pandemic and will be doing it after the pandemic too.

“We will continue to work with the council and help those in need, to make a difference.”

Other service users have also leaned on the community group for clothes and shoes after being left without.

Billa - who grew up with Paddy McGuinness - said the TV star came to help out with food and clothes on Christmas Eve.

He added: “It opened his eyes seeing those without, and he didn’t even want anyone to know he was coming.”

Billa was inspired to work with the homeless over a decade ago, establishing the community group in 2017 after seeing a lot of his and Paddy’s friends become homeless.

Cllr Andy Morgan, the borough’s adult services cabinet member, said: “We can’t thank the charities and community groups enough and we couldn’t do it without them.

“We want to help get people off the streets in the long-term and help find suitable housing, getting people back into their communities.

“This includes working with third sector partners like Bolton Community and Voluntary Services and Urban Outreach, and trying to get people back into employment and training, to break that cycle.

“People can also be very quick to judge homeless people, but don’t know their background or situation, and they just need a chance.”

The community group is currently at full capacity with their volunteers but officials have asked for people to keep an eye out on their social media channels and to get in touch if they need support.

The community group depend on donations from supermarkets and members of the public, and have asked for people to donate when they can.