Residents and visitors to Newcastle city centre are being urged not to give cash to people who beg, but instead donate money to charities that provide meaningful support to those in need.
According to Newcastle City Council shoppers can give hundreds of pounds a day to those who beg in the belief they are helping people who are hungry or homeless. However, the public has been urged to be aware that not everyone begging is homeless or in need. Some people are known to travel into the city centre with sleeping bags and old clothes to appear homeless when they actually have accommodation or have been offered a ”placement”.
The council points out that begging can put people at ”serious risk of exploitation”, where they may continue to drink alcohol and take drugs rather than engage with the services that are trying to help them. This can lead to drug misuse, intoxication, anti-social behaviour, and violence in public places, which can put themselves and the public at risk.
Kenton Councillor Paula Maines, Cabinet member for a Resilient City at Newcastle Council, said:
”We are committed to working with partners to provide a range of services for people who have social and complex needs. But what we will not tolerate is people who engage in aggressive begging, intimidate residents and visitors and cause disruption in our communities.’
”We understand it’s a very emotive seeing someone who appears vulnerable on the streets and it’s only human nature to want to help, but it is important the public are aware of who they are giving their money to and what’s really happening once they do.
”By urging the public to donate to charities, we want to encourage people to move away from begging activities in the city and instead engage with the support services available to them. Donating money to charities will ensure that your money is going to good causes which can make a positive difference to people’s lives.”
Chief Inspector David Wheeler, of Northumbria Police, said:
” This is a fantastic initiative from Newcastle Council and one we are fully supportive of. Member of the public looking to kindly donate to this cause can be assured that their money will go towards providing important practical support to those who need it.
”Aggressive begging, which often leaves people feeling intimidated, is something that no-one should have to put up with. Anyone who experiences such incidents should notify us immediately so that we can take the appropriate action, using all the powers at our disposal.”
Tariq Albassam, at NE1 – The business improvement company in the city, said:
”We take the issue of homelessness in Newcastle extremely seriously and want to ensure that help, including donations get to the most vulnerable. We know that the majority of beggars on the streets of the city are not genuinely homeless. We know this because our Street Rangers engage with them every single day.”
”Unfortunately giving money to beggars often feeds addiction, ASB and even organised crime, not the hungry and homeless. We have some fantastic charities working with the city’s most vulnerable and we urge anyone who wants to help to give to these charities and not to beggars.”
Helping Rough Sleepers
The Council provides a dedicated homelessness service, through the Housing Advice Centre, including an out of hours response for people who are rough sleepers.
Adapted from a Press Release from Newcastle City Council.