DON’T give to beggars - that’s the message Chester City Council and its partners are puutting out in a new awareness campaign being launched this week.
The campaign aims to:
Reduce the number of people giving money directly to beggars;
Get the message across that money given is likely to be used for buying drugs and alcohol;
Reduce the number of street beggars and the associated anti-social behaviour.
The city council understands that many people want to help people who beg for money, but wants to encourage the giving of money to established organisations that can really help and support vulnerable individuals.
Councillor Jill Houlbrook executive member for environment said: “Begging increases the fear of crime in our communities. The public does not want to see beggars, many of whom can be aggressive and intimidating on our streets.
“I know many people feel guilty after walking past a beggar, but if you do want to help, please give your money to homeless charities, not to the beggars. Do not fund drug or alcohol habits, help people in a better way.”
The campaign is being run in partnership with the police and homelessness organisations, such as Chester Aid to the Homeless and Chester Community Safety Partnership.
Posters supporting the campaign will be put up in car parks and the city’s bus station shelters. Campaign beer matts will be distributed by Chester’s Pub Watch members in many of the city’s pubs and bars to back up the message.
The priority for the city council and its partners is to help vulnerable people make positive lifestyle changes, but it supports effective enforcement if individuals refuse to accept help and continue to cause unacceptable levels of anti-social behaviour through aggressive begging.
Inspector Mel Williams of Cheshire Police said: “We know that begging and street drinking is not something local people want to see in Chester. We will continue our efforts both in tackling the problems through enforcement, but also dealing with the causes of the problems by signposting them to those local services that can help with drug addiction, alcoholism and homelessness.”
Chester Aid to the Homeless said: “Donating to CATH allows us to help homeless people help themselves.”
If people would like to offer donations you can contact Ashley Morgan on 01244 314834.