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Anti Social Behaviour - Begging Campaign

Community Safety Partnership Community Safety Partnership


When someone on the street asks you for money, what do you think?

In that split second when you're making a decision whether to walk away or to take out your spare change, have you ever wondered what else you could do or what difference your money can make? While your first impulse may be to help someone who's worse off than you, any small change given might make life on the street a bit more viable but in the worst case, it can feed a cycle of anti-social behaviour that keeps people on the street and away from the help they need. It takes more than money to turn a life around. Your small change can be put to better use by local organisations who are helping provide people with most of the things they need, to get off the streets, out of homelessness and into more stable lives. Your small change, given to these organisations, can be part of creating big change.

Exeter Community Safety Partnership has launched the #ExeHelp campaign which aims to tackle begging in the city and to make the public aware that giving money directly to those who beg does not always help.

The aim of the campaign is to reduce the incidence of begging in Exeter by educating the public that there are a number of avenues of support in place already for people who beg and to encourage members of the public to give directly to local charities instead.

In recent years, local and national research has shown that begging is often undertaken primarily to support problematic drug use including the Class A drugs heroin and crack cocaine.
(Drug Use and Begging - DrugScope)

Begging is an offence under Section 3 of the Vagrancy Act 1824. Devon & Cornwall Police actively deal with anyone found begging in Exeter and work in partnership with Exeter City Council and other agencies to encourage client-centred support and treatment.
(Vagrancy Act 1824)

In an audit on the 17th April 2014, seven people were found begging between 9pm and 11.30pm. Three were known to be sleeping rough, two were in supported accommodation and the status of two was unknown. It's also accepted that not all people who do sleep rough are engaged in begging though. The last overnight rough sleepers count found 32 people sleeping rough in Exeter. It's often difficult for members of the public to know if a person is sleeping rough or not when asked for change by someone. Of the seven found begging on the 17th April 2014, six were known to misuse substances.

Stencilled messages have been sprayed onto the pavement at key spots in Exeter city centre in an attempt to stop aggressive and intimidating begging, highlight the work already going on in Exeter and educate the public about why they do not need to give money to people who beg.

It is hoped that the initiative - using biodegradable ink that washes off after a while - will help explain to members of the public the support there is for people who sleep rough in the city and how they can help.

Key messages include:

  2. SPARE CHANGE? WHY NOT BUY A BIG ISSUE INSTEAD? - The Big Issue offers people who are homeless the opportunity to earn their own money; a livelihood. The Big Issue Foundation, as a charity for people who are homeless, offers vendors the opportunity of a life. They work tirelessly alongside their vendors to help them deal with the issues that have caused their homelessness or have developed as a result of hitting the streets. Big Issue sellers purchase each copy for £1.25 and sell it for £2.50 to their customers. (The Big Issue)
  3. FREE FOOD IS AVAILABLE EVERYDAY TO PEOPLE WHO BEG IN EXETER - Organisations exist that provide food, support and shelter in the evenings and at weekends. Exeter Community Initiatives maintains an up to date list of free food in Exeter on their webpage. (Soup Kitchens in Exeter)
  4. CHANGE IS ABOUT MORE THAN A FEW COINS - PLEASE DONATE TO CHARITY - Donating money isn't always the only way to help. You could always consider contacting a local charity to find out if you can help in some way. Some charities also look for donations of food, especially tinned goods, tea, coffee, sugar, pasta and packaged groceries. Blankets, socks, shoes and clothes in good condition.
  6. PLEASE CONSIDER GIVING DIRECTLY TO CHARITY AND NOT TO PEOPLE WHO BEG - Unfortunately money given to someone on the street can go towards buying drugs or alcohol and can prevent them accessing support from elsewhere. There's a variety of ways you could give to local charities and money given would be used to help those who need it most. You could either contact a local charity directly and ask how you can help, or you can donate online.
    EDP Drug & Alcohol Services have various option to help or donate online.
    (EDP Support Page)
    Shilhay Community have an online donation page.
    (Shilhay Community Donate Page)
    St Petrock's have numerous suggestions about how to help on their webpage.
    (St Petrocks Donate Page)
    You can donate directly to the Big Issue from their webpage.
    (The Big Issue)
    Exeter YMCA have an online donation page.
    (Exeter YMCA donate page)
  7. CONCERNED ABOUT A PERSON BEGGING? - There are a number of reasons why individuals beg. Many have multiple problems that contribute to begging including drug or alcohol use and relationship or accommodation issues. SHOT was established in 2003 in response to the increasing numbers of people rough sleeping on the streets of Exeter. The team provides a street-based assertive outreach service within the city of Exeter and localities of East & Mid Devon for people who are street homeless and rough sleeping. You can find out more about the SHOT team and how they can help here.
    (Street Homeless Outreach Team)
  8. REGULAR FOOD AND CLOTHING FACILITIES ARE AVAILABLE TO PEOPLE WHO BEG IN EXETER - There are a number of organisations in Exeter who are there to help people with issues such as food and clothing. A list can be found on the Exeter Street Survival Guide 2014. Paper copies can be obtained in the Civic Centre.
    (Street Needs Survival Guide)

Some people feel a need to connect or communicate with someone they see begging and don't feel they're able to simply pass them by. Talking to someone begging or offering to buy them something to eat or drink is a good way to maintain a relationship with someone less fortunate than you. You would not be providing money which could be used to buy drugs or alcohol but would still be able to offer help and support through your actions.

People are being asked to get help spread the message about what services are available in Exeter by using the hashtag #ExeHelp and tweeting your views on how we as a city can reduce the need for people to beg.

Links to local organisation

St Petrock's(Web) - (Twitter) - (Facebook)
Exeter YMCA(Web) - (Twitter) - (Facebook)
Shilhay Community(Web) - (Twitter) - (Facebook)
Exeter Community Initiatives(Web) - (Twitter) - (Facebook)
EDP Drugs and Alcohol Service(Web) - (Twitter) - (Facebook)
Big Issue Exeter(Web)
Bournemouth Church Houses(Web)
Esther Community(Web)
Exeter Community Safety Partnership(Web) - (Twitter) - (Facebook)

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