OwlTree Web Solutions company logo

Backup North West – Tackling Homelessness Among Young People

21 December 2021

We recently had the pleasure of designing and developing a new website for Backup North West, to represent the ‘personality’ of the charity and the work that they do. OwlTree is proud to support such a worthy and local charity. Read on as we take a look at the history of Backup, where it all started and the incredible work they do within the community..

Backup North West is a charity based in Bolton tackling homelessness among young people aged 16-25 years. Established 30 years ago, as Bolton Young Persons Housing Scheme, the charity was formed to address rising concerns that young people were experiencing disproportionate levels of homelessness.

It started with one 2 bedroomed house which was shared by two young women, the first ever residents, and supported by a part time worker who worked to ensure they were living independently, preparing them for moving on into their own place. The name changed to Backup in 2018 and now has 104 units of self-contained accommodation and the level and type of support that goes with that has increased massively.

"No young person will remember the type of curtains or wallpaper we provided but they will remember forever how they were treated and made to feel." Maura Jackson CEO of Backup North West.

This is why Backup provide extras and fundraise to do so; chef whites for catering college, a trowel for an apprentice plasterer, acrylic nails for the prom night, flowers for a still born baby's funeral. They have a fund - young people can access internally, once a year for up to £80 for something that is connected to improving their wellbeing. The results are always priceless. 


Every young person is given a tailored support package; Backup assess the needs and current circumstances and move from there. All of the services are different, ranging from very intensive round the clock support and security, through to medium and then to lower semi-independent living. Collectively 6 projects accommodate 112 young people at any one time. Young people can move through the services as their needs decrease.  The final stage being a managed flat in the community which Backup support through a visiting support 'Outreach Service', they experience almost complete independence but have a backup – pardon the pun.

The support workers are employed for their life experiences as much as their qualifications, they range from social workers to former teachers, health care, criminal justice and social care colleagues but also include people who have retrained - an ex-gardener, chef, plumber, website designer, insurance broker, banker and painter & decorator.  What they have in common is a willingness to make a life changing difference for young people and they share the company values – Commitment, Honesty, Empathy, Empowerment, Resilience, Respect and Support.

Backup now employs 67 staff, support workers, managers, business staff and a small fundraising team with a common goal of tackling homelessness but for those young people who do experience it and whilst they experience it, giving them a great quality service and safe option. They are an Investors in People GOLD employer and have been for 7 years, successfully completing assessments every 3 years. They employ 6 ex-residents, 2 as service managers.


The ultimate aim is to ensure young people move on into their own safe and secure accommodation. 250 young people move on every year, Backup have a 91% success rate. The young people are amazing, so diverse and resilient. In 30 years of operation Backup have seen young people go on to be prison officers, bankers, charity founder, artists, managers, solicitors, teachers, support workers, business owners, local government staff, civil servants and a BAFTA winning comedienne and writer. There are also parents, carers and community activists. They have a few ex-residents who became lifelong users of services, didn't succeed in their efforts to stop offending, drinking or using drugs, became trapped in sex work, couldn't leave the abusive relationships they formed and occasionally they will see a familiar face in Bolton Most Wanted page in the local paper. This isn't Disney, but when it works, it's magical.


You can visit Backup North West's brand new website here:

Like What You See

Get in touch today to find out how OwlTree can help

01204 326280