GIVE money to homeless charities instead of directly to those begging on the street.
That is the message from Warwick District Council, Warwickshire Police, The Salvation Army, BID Leamington and the Royal Priors Shopping Centre, who have re-launched their ‘Killing with Kindness campaign’.
The campaign aims to eliminate begging in Leamington which has spiralled in the past couple of years and which is believed to fuel drug and alcohol addiction.
Donations made to the campaign will go to the Salvation Army Way Ahead Project – a charity working to support local homeless people and help them re-build their lives.
Salvation Army spokesman and Leamington Green Party county councillor Jonathan Chilvers said: “My experience is that it isn’t caring to give money to people begging, it fuels alcohol and drug addiction, which destroys family relationships and can kill them.
“But please don’t ignore people either – something as small as looking someone in the eye, buying them food that you’d buy for yourself, or talking to them, can give people dignity and hope. There are lots of agencies who can support people and the homeless can earn an income selling the Big Issue, which is an opportunity available to all homeless people. If you’re ever concerned about a person you meet, please do get in contact with us.”
There were big increases in the number of people sleeping rough on the district’s streets last year, according to figures released by Warwick District Council – for reasons ranging from termination of shorthold tenancies to domestic abuse.
Council chefs say the number of homeless people is difficult to calculate, but last year there were just over 700 applications for accommodation – nearly six times as many as it received four years earlier – although half were deemed not to actually be homeless.
The council is drawing up a new Homelessness Strategy in a bid to tackle the problem over the next two years, with priorities focused on providing suitable accommodation and effective help and advice.
Council housing spokesman Norman Vincett said: “Warwick District Council is committed to tackling and preventing homelessness in the district.
“Homelessness and insecure housing have devastating effects on hundreds of people across the district each year – they affect people’s health, employment opportunities and can have long lasting effects on children.”
Donations to the Killing with Kindness campaign can be made in shops along the Parade or by going directly to the Salvation Army.