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Your views on whether handing out soup is making Norwich's homeless issue better or worse

PUBLISHED: 11:19 04 March 2018 | UPDATED: 15:06 08 March 2018

A homeless person on a street in Norfolk. Picture: IAN BURT

A homeless person on a street in Norfolk. Picture: IAN BURT

Archant 2018

In his latest column, Steven Downes asked whether handing soup, clothes and drinks to beggars could compound, rather than ease, problems with homelessness. Here are some of your responses to the debate on an increasingly important issue.

■ Tanya Ruby Brant: “Homeless people don’t choose to live on the streets, quite frankly they don’t have a lot of choices, which is sad. We give them money because we are lucky so have some, we’re lucky to have a roof over our heads and food on our tables. There is not enough help or awareness for homeless people.”

■ Christina Violet Sabberton: “How about picking them up a hot drink and something to eat and sitting beside them and actually talking to the homeless, they are lonely as well. You hear some really sad stories this way and you will be surprised how nice it is just to sit drink eat and chat together.”

■ Claire Barber: “I am sure no one unfortunate to be on the streets is thinking ‘wow this is the life!’”

■ Carla Nessa: “How many homeless do we actually see begging for money? I see them sitting in shop doors keeping themselves to themselves, appreciative of what anyone gives. They are ashamed to be begging. They didn’t choose this life.”

■ Carrie Hobbs: “In a perfect world there would be no homeless. Are there non genuine cases? Of course there are, just as is the case in all walks of human life. No one WANTS to live like this.”

■ Beverly Joy: “People in Norwich are doing a wonderful job, such as Peoples Picnic helping to keep them fed and clothed. Any one of us could end up like this.”

■ Tammy Richardson: “If I can, I give money to someone who is homeless and has asked. I gave £1 only to a man in the city the other day and 20 mins later I saw him sitting down on the floor with a hot drink and a sandwich in his hands! Warmed my heart and made my heart hurt, all at the same time.”

■ Nigel Mayes: “The thing to remember about the “homeless” is that they are human. Very vulnerable humans who would barely eat if it wasn’t for the kindness of the people offering food and provisions.”

■ Ollie Starbuck: “I do not think the soup kitchen adds to a problem as there are those in real need and the best way to support them is donate to homeless charities or soup kitchens etc. The inconvenient truth is that Norwich has a massive issue with begging and there are more ‘professional beggars’ in this city than you might think.”

MORE: ‘A dehumanising and humiliating experience’: My night sleeping on the street in the freezing cold

■ Jackie Lewin: “I agree that it is best not to give money to those on the street. I usually have a piece of fruit in my bag on the way to work, so have given this to them. I think you will find that the charities ask you not to give them money.”

■ Simon Morgan: “It is -5 at the moment, down to -9 recently. That Soup Movement is a life line for many homeless people. Can we help those in need, aid those who have suffered at the hands of society and its complications, rather than vilify and hound the less fortunate. That attitude is surely ‘the spirit of Norwich’ and indeed of a civilised society.”

■ Poppy Rose: “While Mr Downes does make some valid points, I feel that the deeper issue needs to be looked at. In our society where living is becoming more and more expensive, and where both parents need to work to support their families, mental health issues are becoming a larger problem.”

■ Jessamy Selwyn: “For the past week, I’ve been assisting Chip of Norwich Soup Movement in the distribution of winter clothing, blankets and food to the people sat out in the ice. Every single person has been kind, considerate and excessively grateful. They’ve avoided taking anything they don’t need. They have made sure that their friends are provided for. Their basic needs as humans are unmet and there is no institutional provision. Grassroots is what met their needs.”

If you would like to help Norwich’s homeless, there are a range of organisations you can contact: Norwich Soup Movement; The People’s Picnic;Empathy and Action and Time (EAT); Anon Street Team - Norwich, are just some of these.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Over the past 18 months we have regularly put the focus on Norwich and Norfolk’s growing issue of homelessness, speaking to those on the streets, those involved with helping them and those in power. That will continue and we will be taking another look at this very complex problem over the next few days. It’s clear from this weekend’s reaction it’s something people feel very passionate about and rightly so.

This column was clearly stated as an opinion and never professed to be anything other than that. We will happily publish the views of anyone who wishes to send us them, whatever side of the fence they sit on. Whatever people’s views on the column it is clear that there is a debate here that needs to happen and a solution found for the good of all those unfortunate enough to find themselves in a desperate situation.

You can write a letter to us at edpletters@archant.co.uk. Remember to include your name, address and a contact number.

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