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Former veteran made homeless urges people not to give money to beggars in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 14:32 08 July 2017 | UPDATED: 17:56 08 July 2017

Former homeless ex-soldier Robin Tew is backing the Ipswich Help Our Homeless Project at Sailmakers Shopping Centre. Picture: PAGEPIX

Former homeless ex-soldier Robin Tew is backing the Ipswich Help Our Homeless Project at Sailmakers Shopping Centre. Picture: PAGEPIX

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A former soldier who spent six years living on the streets has backed a new project urging people not to give money to beggars on the street.

Deputy mayor of Ipswich Roger Fern and mayor Sarah Barber launch the Help Our Homeless Project in Ipswich. Picture: PAGEPIX Deputy mayor of Ipswich Roger Fern and mayor Sarah Barber launch the Help Our Homeless Project in Ipswich. Picture: PAGEPIX

Robin Tew, 50, who used to serve in the Royal Hampsire Regiment and now lives in Lowestoft, was originally made homeless when he suffered a family breakdown and went through a divorce.

He had been suffering from depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from serving in Northern Ireland, which left him unable to hold down a job.

Having got into trouble and found to be carrying a lock-knife, he was arrested and jailed for four weeks in Norwich.

But his fortunes turned around when he was put on probation and given support by Ipswich Housing Action Group (IHAG).

“Because of their help I went from living on the street to having a place with a roof over my head,” he said.

“If the guys out on the street could sort themselves out by working with groups like IHAG instead of fighting against them and get it into their heads that they can’t always have things right away they could turn their lives round too.”

Now, as the new Help Our Homeless Project was launched at Sailmakers Shopping Centre in Ipswich last week backed by IHAG, the Ipswich Locality Homelessness Project and Ipswich mayor Sarah Barber, Mr Tew is urging people to give their money to homelessness organisations and not to the beggars themselves.

He said: “As someone who has been out there on the streets I know there are people out there begging who are doing it for a living – they live in nice houses and have cars etc, but they find it nice and easy to go out and pretend to be homeless.

“Then there are the ones addicted to substances and drink - you might only give them 10p but with 10 10ps they can buy a can.

“It’s better that the money goes to an organisation that can help the way I was helped so that I’ve got a nice apartment, friends who support me and care about me and a partner to share my life with.”

Rob Wragg, outreach co-ordinator, said: “If people can survive on the streets by begging then getting them to come in and engage with us is much harder.

“We want to ensure there is a strategic, co-ordinated and effective approach to all aspects of homelessness, its causes and effects.”

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