[Hpn] Homelessness in UK - Change a Life Campaign

H. C. Covington icanamerica@email.msn.com
Mon, 13 Nov 2000 23:27:18 -0600

The issues of our lives are much the same in England as the US and Canada.

Homeless Backlash

British charity raps government’s anti-begging drive.

SHELTER,  Britain’s best-known homeless charity, has lashed out at the
government’s new anti-begging campaign, Reuters reported Nov. 6.

The government’s “Change a Life” campaign asks good Samaritans not to give spare
change to the estimated 1,600 homeless people who sleep on the streets each

Instead, the campaign suggests people should volunteer at local soup kitchens or
donate items to charity. The government’s "Rough Sleepers" (homeless) Unit
created controversy when it suggested that giving money to the homeless fuels
alcohol and drug addiction.

Shelter fears the campaign could make life more difficult for the homeless.

“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,”
said Shelter director Chris Holmes.

The group says the best way to fight begging was to examine why people were on
the streets and to find alternatives.

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

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.



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