West Norfolk shoppers ‘shouldn’t give to beggars’, new campaign pleads

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Shoppers in Lynn will be urged not to give money to street beggars under a new joint campaign announced by a councillor.

The initiative, which is due to be formally launched next month, will instead encourage people to donate to homeless charities, who officials say are better placed to help those in need.

The campaign was outlined in a report by Adrian Lawrence, West Norfolk Council’s cabinet member for housing, contained in agenda papers published ahead of the authority’s meeting last night.

Mr Lawrence said: “Currently, the council is working with the Purfleet Trust, police and Vancouver Centre to raise awareness of homelessness and to request people to support local homelessness charities by giving to charities instead of people on the street.”

He said the new anti-begging message would be promoted in the Vancouver Quarter and on the High Street.

And Paula Hall, chief executive of the Purfleet Trust, believes the idea will benefit everyone concerned.

She said: “It would be easy for them (the police and council) to move people on. That is an option for them, but they’re not doing that. They’re being supportive.

“Having a co-ordinated approach from police, the council, charities and business is going to be much more effective, I think.”

Similar initiatives have been launched in other parts of the country in recent months.

They include one which began in Newcastle this week, where a charity claimed much of the money being given to street beggars in the city was being spent on drugs and alcohol.

And Mrs Hall said some of the people who are reported to them after being seen begging in Lynn are not actually homeless.

She said the campaign, which is set to be launched in the next couple of weeks, was also intended to encourage people to report cases where people are seen on the streets to agencies like the trust.

She said that would then enable professionals to assess the levels of support those people need.

She added: “It’s about encouraging people to help in other ways.”

n What do you think? Is it better to give money to charities instead of directly to beggars? Or should we never turn our backs on those in need, wherever we see them?

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