New campaign urges people not to give to beggars in Norwich

PC Ross McNally talking to 'Buff' who insisted he was entertaining rather than begging on the Grapes Hill footbridge. Photo: Bill Smith PC Ross McNally talking to 'Buff' who insisted he was entertaining rather than begging on the Grapes Hill footbridge. Photo: Bill Smith

Peter Walsh peter.walsh@archant.co.uk
Friday, December 6, 2013
6:35 AM

A campaign has been launched urging members of the public not to give directly to beggars on Norwich’s streets but to instead re-direct their generosity to charities to help provide real, long-term support.

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A recent high-profile crackdown on street begging carried out by Norfolk police helped highlight that the majority of beggars in Norwich are already housed in some way and that the money being given by generous members of the public is being used to fund drug and alcohol addictions.

Norwich City Council’s ‘Make Your Change Count’ initiative, which is being backed by police and housing charities, aims to help people off the street and make lasting changes to individuals’ lives, through encouraging active engagement with the wide variety of support services on offer.

Tracy John, head of housing at Norwich City Council, said: “People give money to beggars because they want to help, but the reality is that more often than not, their cash is being used to fund drug or alcohol addictions, with potentially fatal consequences.

“There are many great local services seeking to help the homeless and those suffering from substance addiction, and we are asking that people show their generosity in different ways, to work with these services, rather than against them.

“By not giving cash directly to beggars you can ensure you are not facilitating an individual’s harmful lifestyle, while also helping people to address their real needs, instead of providing them with the means to avoid them.”

Posters are being displayed on buses and in shops around the city, urging the public to make their change count, by supporting the campaign.

Visit www.norwich.gov.uk/makechangecount to find out more.

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