The best way to help people street begging in Blackburn is to donate to charity, rather than putting money in their hands – a new campaign is urging.
Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council alongside Blackburn’s Business Improvement District (BID), local charity THOMAS (Those on The Margins of a Society) and other partner agencies, are behind a drive to highlight support and services available in the borough.
Outreach ‘Street Teams’ have been commissioned to work in the town to provide a helping hand to people begging on the streets.
As part of the campaign, people are being encouraged to consider donating to local charities, such as THOMAS, that provide food, shelter and support rather than handing over cash to those begging.
It’s really easy to donate online by visiting www.justgiving.com/t-h-o-m-a-s or you can make a cash donation in Blackburn’s shops and businesses.
A former Blackburn street beggar is part of the campaign and features in this video
His story is being used to help encourage people to donate money to charities rather than to people begging on the streets.
There will also be high-profile outdoor advertising throughout Blackburn featuring local people, including posters attached to the floor to raise awareness with shoppers.
A social media campaign using the hashtag #begforchange will also help raise awareness. The campaign has been created using the opinions of people who have begged in the past.
Lee says charities, including THOMAS, were what helped him take a ‘step in the right direction’.
The 42-year-old, who took to the streets after spiralling into drug and alcohol addictions, is taking part in a rehabilitation course run by THOMAS. He is now living in temporary accommodation and has hopes of going to university.
You think you’re helping those begging by giving them money but you’re not – you are making it worse.
Lee said he used the money to buy alcohol and Class A drugs because that’s what he had grown up with, seeing it as the ‘norm’ but now relishes the routine and structure in his life.
Cllr Phil Riley, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Executive Member of Regeneration, is championing the campaign. He said:
We know that the kind people of the town would want to make a lasting difference to the lives of the vulnerable people who are begging. This can best be done by giving to the organisations that are working day and night to help address the long term issues that result in people feeling the need to beg in the streets.
Harriet Roberts, Blackburn Business Improvement District (BID) Manager, said:
Towns and cities across the UK are grappling with this problem and discussing similar solutions to educating visitors. We want an approach where support is there for those who genuinely need it. This is an issue we are all committed to tackling, sensitively, taking a collaborative approach.
THOMAS wants to provide support earlier to help people off the streets. THOMAS founder Father Jim McCartney said every day the charity feeds up to 50 people, offering them a helping hand, caring voice and support.
When people are begging and can make a living from begging, they don’t see a reason to stop.
It’s not a good life – it’s an impoverished one and issues are not being dealt with which led someone to beg in the first place.
We really want people to be generous and keep on giving, but want them to know that giving to people begging on the street can be counter-productive.
More information can be found at www.blackburn.gov.uk
Leaflets will be handed out to the general public and will also be available to pick up at local businesses or see our Help Stop Begging Q&A