[Hpn] UK government ANTI-BEGGING campaign slammed by homeless charity, Shelter FWD Shelter FWD

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Fri, 10 Nov 2000 17:55:34 -0800 (PST)


Below find Reuters and BBC articles on UK's Christmas Season ANTI-BEGGING
AD campaign:

http://live.altavista.com/scripts/editorial.dll?ei=2303066&ern=y
FWD  Reuters - 06 Nov 2000

     UK CHARITY SLAMS GOVERNMENT ANTI-BEGGING CAMPAIGN

LONDON, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Shelter, Britain's best-known charity for the
homeless, hit out on Monday at a government drive against begging.

A publicity campaign asks Good Samaritans not to hand out their spare
change to the estimated 1,600 people who sleep rough on British streets
every night.

The government's Change a Life campaign says people who want to help should
instead volunteer at their local soup kitchen, or give money to the
charities that help those forced to make their bed in a cardboard box.

Shelter said the campaign could make life worse for beggars.

``However carefully communicated, this initiative could increase the stigma
of homelessness and make life even worse for people who are already subject
to high levels of abuse and violence,'' Shelter Director Chris Holmes said
in a statement.

The government's Rough Sleepers Unit, set up to get people off the streets,
courted controversy by suggesting that giving money to beggars only fuelled
drug and alcohol addiction.

The unit's chief, Louise Casey, last year dubbed handouts to beggars as
``misplaced goodwill.''

But her unit said on Monday Change a Life was not an anti-begging campaign.

``Few human beings can walk past their fellow man in the street and not be
moved by a desire to help.

``This campaign is part of a government's responsibility to inform the
public of the best ways they can help make a real difference. It is not an
anti-begging campaign.''

Government figures show that some 1,600 people sleep on the streets every
night. Shelter says the figure is probably higher.

Social policy experts last week attacked the campaign ahead of Monday's
launch, British newspaper the Independent reported.

The experts said in an open letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair that the
advertising campaign was ``potentially harmful'' and could force people
into crime and prostitution.

Shelter said the best way to fight begging was to look at why people were
on the streets and to find alternatives.

``The priority must be to find alternatives for those on the streets,
whether homeless or not,'' Holmes said.

END FORWARD

**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior
interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid_1009000/1009148.stm
FWD  BBC News - Monday, 6 November, 2000, 13:17 GMT

Government's begging initiative criticised

[PHOTO] The public will be urged to give to charity not beggars

The homeless charity Shelter has criticised a government campaign to
discourage people from giving cash to beggars.

The Change A Life scheme, launched on Monday, involves asking the public to
donate money and time to homelessness charities rather than giving cash to
street beggars.

The aim is to direct more funds into frontline work for the homeless and
find more volunteers for local projects.

Louise Casey, the government's "homelessness czar", says the latest
initiative by the Rough Sleepers Unit is not an anti-begging campaign.

But Shelter says the strategy could inadvertently make life worse for
vulnerable people by generating negative publicity about begging.

Shelter director Chris Holmes said: "However carefully communicated, this
initiative could increase the stigma of homelessness and make life even
worse for people who are already subject to high levels of abuse and
violence."

The Change A Life scheme will be supported by a national advertising
campaign, which will ask the public to give time, gifts in kind and money
to homelessness charities.

  Drug abusers

It follows new research commissioned by the government  which looked at
street beggars in Manchester, London, Bristol, Leeds and Brighton.

Results showed that around 86% of these people were abusing drugs, many of
them with a serious addiction.

Shelter's criticism is that the scheme is being pushed through in advance
of developing broader solutions to begging.

Mr Holmes said: "The priority must be to find alternatives for those on the
streets whether homeless or not.

"Diversionary giving should be considered as part of a much broader review
of fresh evidence about patterns of street living and homelessness."

The campaign comes a year after Ms Casey sparked anger by describing
handouts to beggars as "misplaced goodwill".

The government's Rough Sleepers Unit aims to reduce the number of people
sleeping on the streets from 1,850 in 1998 to 620 by 2002.

The current figure is said to be 1,200 although some experts warn that the
true level of rough sleeping may be much higher as homeless people can be
missed in "audits".

  Homelessness czar

The government campaign was backed by the Greater London Authority's (GLA)
'homelessness czar' Glenda Jackson.

"I can understand what the government is trying to do.

"A lot of people on the street are begging to support drug and alcohol habits.

"We should be looking at what constitutes compassion in this context.

"There should be more support services to help them manage their problems.
" Ms Jackson said.

She said she hoped to publish the GLA's own homelessness action plan for
London before Christmas.

*****
SIDEBAR
Rough Sleeper's facts

1,180 people sleep rough in Britain every night
10,000 in a year
Around a quarter are aged 18-25
6% are over 60
Family breakdown is most common cause
Around 30% have been in care
Nearly half have a mental health problem

END FORWARD

**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior
interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**

For related LINKS and sidebars, Go To:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid_1009000/1009148.stm




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