Anti Social Behaviour - Begging Campaign
YOU CAN MAKE A BIG CHANGE WITH YOUR SMALL CHANGE
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.
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.
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:
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