Have a heart, give smart
The ‘Have a heart, give smart’ campaign aims to educate the public and raise awareness. Giving money to those who beg is not the best way to help them. It does nothing to help them tackle the problems they may face. We know that in some cases such kindness can kill.
The ‘Have a heart, give smart’ campaign message is simple - do not give money to those who beg. Instead donate or support those agencies that are working to help those in need.
The 700 Club [external link] is a Darlington based charity working with people who are begging. We work closely with agencies including the Council and the Police to help those who beg on the streets in our town.
People beg for a variety of reasons. Begging to feed an addiction is commonplace, whether it be for drugs, alcohol or gambling. Some beg to meet everyday needs such as paying rent or an outstanding bill. Unfortunately greed can play a part in begging.
Begging can be lucrative, it’s reported that individuals can gain £40-50 daily and in some cases even more. Organisations across Darlington are working together to understand what motivates people to beg. We can then work with individuals to help them tackle whatever problems they may have.
People begging on the streets increases the levels of fear among the general public. Particularly those who are vulnerable (such as the elderly, disabled and children). This causes some people to avoid the town centre. This can then have an effect on the area, damaging retail and community cohesion.
People beg for a reason. Partner organisations are working together on the basis that everyone matters. They aim to help those who beg to change their behaviour. This benefits their own well-being and the community as a whole.
An initiative has been running in Darlington for around 18 months. There is a partnership between:
- the housing team
- the police
- crime and victims commissioner
- Darlington community safety partnership
- the third sector
This is to help those begging and those at risk of becoming homeless. A dedicated outreach worker speak to individuals on a daily basis.
They offer on the spot opportunities that include:
- emergency accommodation
- other floating support services
- handholding to access the local authority homelessness pathway
- access to substance misuse services
- help with setting up benefits and maximising income
- help with budgeting
- help around mental and physical health
There are other types of intervention. These aim to move the individual away from the need to beg.
By giving money to a relevant charity, you can be sure the money is used to help those who need it.
Agencies and organisations want to help those that beg. If it is harder to get money this way it may motivate those that beg to engage. These agencies/organisations can help them overcome the issues that lead them to beg.
Numbers vary. Generally all those who beg in Darlington are known to local agencies/partners. They are spoken to regularly by either
- the police
- the local authority
- other voluntary agencies
They are then offered the support they need.
Not everyone who begs is homeless. Support is available so people do not need to sleep on the streets. You can find more information on our "no second night out" webpage. This provides information if you are worried about anyone sleeping on the streets.