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Don't Fund The Habit, Fund The Charities

City centre visitors urged not to give money to beggars

Written by . Published on May 9th 2013.

Don't Fund The Habit, Fund The Charities

CHARITIES working with people struggling with drug and alcohol problems are backing a campaign urging city centre visitors not to give money to beggars.

Giving to someone who is begging will do nothing to help them move off the streets or improve their quality of life

Organisations such as the city centre based Booth Centre, which helps people move off the streets, build up their skills and deal with problems such as substance abuse issues, say money given to beggars is used to fund drug and alcohol habits, stopping them breaking free from addiction and moving on with their lives.

Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester Police are now putting up posters across the city centre with the message ‘don’t fund the habit, fund the charities’ as part of a campaign backed by organisations such as the Booth Centre.

Meanwhile, information is also being given to city centre businesses telling staff what they can do to report aggressive beggars as well as what to do to provide assistance for rough sleepers.

Charities working with people with substance abuse problems – as well as others who are struggling to feed their families in the economic downturn – have reported that they are in urgent need of funding and say money would be much better spent going to them rather than to beggars.

Amanda Croome from the Booth Centre said: "We would encourage members of the public not to give money to people begging because it will usually be used to feed people's drug and alcohol addictions and just traps them in a routine of begging which is very difficult to get out of.

"Begging is a humiliating activity which destroys people's self-esteem and often leads them to give up trying to make a better life for themselves.  Giving to someone who is begging will do nothing to help them move off the streets or improve their quality of life."

Cllr Bernard Priest, Manchester City Council’s executive member for neighbourhood services, said: "Manchester residents, as well as people who visit the city centre, are often very eager to help those  they see as being less fortunate than themselves.

"While this is very laudable, sadly many of the charities we work with tell us that if you give money to a beggar, it will only go towards a drug or alcohol habit, and that cash would be much better spent on one of the many Greater Manchester charities which do excellent work helping people who are struggling with addiction or other problems.”

Chief Inspector Gareth Parkin for Greater Manchester Police's North Manchester Division, said: "Members of the public have told us that they feel intimidated in the city centre when faced by aggressive begging. There are clear differences between those that aggressively beg and harass the public and those that do not.

"Our officers will patrol those hotspot areas frequented by persistent offenders and will take a zero tolerance approach to begging, in particular aggressive begging.  They will also be talking to vulnerable people and alert them to the various services that are available to them.

"I would urge shoppers not to give money to beggars as it fuels the problem, but instead perhaps donate some cash or loose change to a homeless charity.”

The City Council is supporting the No Second Night Out initiative, operated across Greater Manchester by Riverside ECHG, in which members of the public are being urged to phone 0345 112 8128 if they see someone sleeping rough. For more information visit: www.riverside.org.uk/nsnogm.

Homeless 3Sleeping Rough in Manchester

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MeMay 10th 2013.

The Northern Quarter is a breeding ground for the homeless, and I do give money to the occasional one, ones I have got to know over the years, ones I know by name, but there are a number of nasty ones who hurl abuse at you when you say you have no money. I pass 6 homeless people in 3 minutes, all faces I recognise (some friendly, some not), walking from my carpark to my apartment. And this is every day. If we dont give them money then they give you a mouthful, or on occassion break into the bin stores and steal what they can to fund their habit. I have had bikes stolen, seen homeless guys letting their homeless friends into my binstore to sleep, seen them stealing at the local shop. I am all for donating money to such charities, but how do they reach out to these people, are they walking the streets of a night offering these people a place to stay. If I knew more about how the problem was being targeted I would be more likely to donate, even donate my time to help the cause.

AnonymousMay 10th 2013.

There's a number of homeless people that have pitched up on Pioneer key (Opposite the Knott). They've been there (on and off) for nearly a year. One of them begs next to the Santander cash point on Deansgate. My wife passes him regularly and noticed a significant deterioration in his health over the past few months. She rang a local charity out of concern. It turns out this fella isn't homeless but has his own flat. He also has a £150 per day drug habit. The charities and police do a great job. The council however could do more.

bellel7May 13th 2013.

The potential danger here is that this message could spur on people to 'tar everyone with the same brush' - and encourage them not to help anyone under the guise of 'not wanting to fund their drink/drug problem... ' We also know there is alot more effort to be made in donating to charitie(s) someone outside Tesco (for example) so this new advice from the council may dissuade people from giving all together....

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