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Help Our Homeless campaign urges Ipswich public to ‘put your spare cash where it counts’

PUBLISHED: 16:38 12 September 2017 | UPDATED: 16:38 12 September 2017

Members of the Help Our Homeless steering group. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

Members of the Help Our Homeless steering group. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

Archant

Don’t give money to street beggars in Ipswich, it could do more harm than good. That is the message behind the Help Our Homeless campaign, which was set up in July in a bid to educate the public on the best ways to support the town’s most vulnerable.

On the last official count, there were 27 rough sleepers in Ipswich, however leaders behind the initiative say there are many more people with a roof over their head who choose to beg because of the amount of money they can earn.

From just a single day on the streets of Ipswich, beggars can collect between £100 and £150 from passers-by.

One of the slogans adopted by Help Our Homeless is: “Most people begging do not sleep rough, and most people sleeping rough do not beg”.

However, leaders also argue that giving money as well as food and drink directly to those genuinely homeless is a bad idea, as it discourages them from engaging with support services and may enable them to stay on the streets for longer.

Help Our Homeless is urging the public to “put your spare change where it counts” and instead give money to the groups that can help those who really need it, and offer long-term, sustainable solutions to their problems.

The initiative is being led by organisations within the Ipswich Homelessness Locality Partnership (ILHP), including Ipswich Housing Action Group, Ipswich Central, Turning Point, Suffolk Constabulary, Selig Suffolk and Emmaus Ipswich.

Since its launch it has already paid for a woman in her 30s to stay in a bed and breakfast for two nights on discharge from hospital.

Speaking at a steering group meeting, PCSO Justin Berry, from Suffolk Constabulary, said: “This is about saying to people: if you carry on giving your money on the street they will never come to engage with the agencies, which means you will see those people every single day, possibly for years.”

Susie Mills, ILHP manager, added: “People need to understand through education that we can help through a different way. If you keep giving money to people they will continue to beg because they can survive.”

Vicky Jones, antisocial behaviour and young people coordinator at Suffolk Constabulary, said: “We want the public to continue giving but to give responsibly.”

Organisers also hope to put up Help Our Homeless information signs in the town’s begging hotspots, such as Cardinal Park and the train station.

If approached by someone asking for money, people are asked to direct them to the Chapman Centre in Black Horse Lane, which offers advice and support.

Anyone concerned for someone sleeping rough can also make a referral to StreetLink.

Donations to Help Our Homeless can be made via orange collection boxes which are dotted across the town. For a full list of locations see here.

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