Reader letter: Beggars in Norwich are becoming very intimidating

PUBLISHED: 11:13 11 March 2018 | UPDATED: 11:13 11 March 2018

EDP reporter Taz Ali spent the night sleeping rough in King's Lynn town centre. Picture: Ian Burt

EDP reporter Taz Ali spent the night sleeping rough in King's Lynn town centre. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

I’d like to say that, after hearing all the somewhat venomous words directed towards Steven Downes, both my husband and I, our family and friends all totally agree with your extremely well balanced report on the problems of the homeless people in Norwich.

At last someone has dared to put in writing what many, many people are thinking. This cannot be allowed to go on.

No one chooses to be homeless, as has been stated quite a lot of late and there are many sad and genuine cases out there.

The trouble is there are also some who are not genuinely homeless, aggressive, on drugs/alcohol and at 10pm crossing the market place - for two pensioners is becoming very intimidating.

MORE: “I used to go down the bins for food” - 84 year old sleeping rough helped by soup kitchens

The last time we crossed the market place after leaving Cinema City, we were shouted at “Bet you’ve had a nice evening”, “Had a nice meal?” etc. This made us very sad as we donate to Saint Martins and buy food for occasional sad cases in shop doorways, who aren’t actually begging and seem genuine … though you can never tell.

The awful plight of the homeless is never far from our mind, we are caring people. However, we have both worked hard all our lives and never had a penny off the State so we class ourselves lucky that we have had the opportunity to do so.

However, we do feel we have the right to occasional enjoyment, like an evening at Cinema City, without having to run the gauntlet of the drunks, junkies and intimidating behaviour crossing the market place.

The soup kitchens are a double-edged sword - on one hand doing a brilliant job, on the other, drawing in all the unsavoury characters from miles around to our wonderful city.

This is exactly what happened when we used to give up our Christmas Day to go into Great Yarmouth to help the homeless and lonely enjoy a nice Christmas dinner.

MORE: “There is no easy solution” - the human cost of rough sleeping in Norwich

Everyone in need was welcome and my husband even used to pick people up in our car who found it difficult to get there. What happened? More and more people abusing the wonderful work that many people had done to make it happen.

Unfortunately, this is human behaviour, It’s a real dilemma. Stop feeding the needy because it’s being abused? Keep feeding the needy and encourage the scroungers?

What I heard on the radio this morning horrified me. Freedom of speech must never be attacked in such a venomous way. Some of the emails I have read stated “I always give them money”. Speak to the doctors and nurses who have been treating them for the past year and hear what damage you have done by doing so. Someone wrote in and said: “So what if they buy drugs with it”. Speak to the police who have to deal with the victims of an attack, some pensioners like myself. Drugs feed crime!

I just feel so sad that Steven had to endure such an attack because he dared to highlight the problems on our streets. Please keep telling it like it is, we need more people like you, in the hope that the government is jolted into spending some of the tax payers hard-earned cash on a few more humanitarian problems in this country, which are close to more people’s hearts than some people


The Government needs to act, this is not just a problem in our area, but a nationwide problem for all our towns and cities. Until they do, please keep up the good work of rousing people’s emotions to a very sad problem that should not be happening in this day and age of plenty - for some.

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