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15 March 2016
New begging campaign urges people to #givesmart
A new campaign is urging people not to give money to individuals begging on the street but to donate it to homeless charities instead.
The #givesmart campaign has been launched this week by Nottingham Community Protection, a partnership between the City Council and the Police, because of concerns that money given directly to people who beg is used to feed harmful addictions.
A hard-hitting poster campaign is being used to get the message across to local people that their kind-hearted generosity could be doing more harm than good to the individuals they are trying to help and that their money would be better directed towards charities that can provide the kind of help and support people really need.
Leader of Nottingham City Council, Councillor Jon Collins, said: “Community Protection and the Police are continually taking action against a small number of persistent beggars who can sometimes be aggressive. Many of these individuals appear to be ‘rough sleeping’ when they have already been provided with accommodation and use the money to feed their lifestyle.
“These professional beggars can make up to £800 a day and have in the past waved notes in front of officers.
“Nottingham has a good track record on providing support for homeless people. We’re a ‘No Second Night Out ’city which means no-one who presents themselves as a rough sleeper will face a second night out on the streets. Our city officers use a ‘house, treat, enforce’ approach, and once individuals are identified we will engage and refer them to the appropriate agency to tackle housing or health issues that they may have.
“The Council spends over £8 million per year on commissioning specialist treatment services for alcohol and drug addiction.”
Councillor Nicola Heaton, Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said: “The dilemma is all too familiar. You’re walking along the street when someone approaches you and asks for some spare change. So you hand over some money thinking you’ve just helped them to buy some food or a warm drink.
“Sadly, the chances are that without realising it, you’ve just helped fuel someone’s serious, possibly life-threatening drug or alcohol habit.
“We know that there are a lot of kind-hearted people in Nottingham who really want to help. But the best way to do this is to give money to charities and organisations who can provide the support and treatment people really need."
Chief Inspector Shaun Ostle, who heads up the city centre police team, said: “Nottingham has made huge strides in reducing begging in recent years, but we know it is still a major concern with citizens.
“Enforcement is only one part of the solution and in fact everyone has a role to play. That is why we are asking people to change the way they give.
“Begging is almost always an aspect of really damaging lifestyles that people can find themselves trapped in.”
Why you should #givesmart...
- Most people sleeping rough do not beg and most people begging do not sleep rough;
- Begging often funds the misuse of drugs and alcohol;
- There are many local charities that can help people without a home or who have a drug or alcohol problem; they need your support
- Charities can make your money go so much further
- Begging is a criminal offence
For those people who are experiencing street homelessness, the very best option for anyone wishing to help is to call Framework’s Street Outreach Team on 0800 0665356. If somebody is in need of urgent support then they will ensure that support is provided and that they get all the help they are entitled to.
More details on the campaign are available at: http://www.endingalcoholharm.co.uk/givesmart/
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