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Aylesbury Vale asked not to give to beggars

Aylesbury Vale asked not to give to beggars

Published by Scarlett Bawden-Gaul at 5:42am 21st January 2020.

Aylesbury Vale District Council has launched a 'diverted giving' campaign.

Visitors to and residents in Aylesbury and surrounding towns are being encouraged to look towards local charities instead of giving to people begging on the street. 

The 'Spare Change or Real Change' campaign highlights the alcohol and drug misuse issues that many people begging have. 

It also explains that giving them money enables them to feed their habit instead of getting help and provide a positive change. 

Not everyone begging on the street is homeless, but have been using begging as a way to support potentially dangerous habits. 

Councillor Mark Winn is AVDC Cabinet Member for Communities:

"People in Aylesbury are very very generous and the problem is people are playing on that. 

"The issue is a lot of people begging may have an addiction and often when people give them money they're fueling that addiction."

They say the reality is only a minority of people begging are genuinely homeless.

There are a range of services available and AVDC is hoping this campaign will encourage donations and use of these agencies. 

They are working in partnership with Vale of Aylesbury Housing to provide a number of bed spaces for those sleeping on the streets. 

Sonia Crawfrod is the AVDC Team Manager for Housing:

"This project is really multifaceted. It runs from the prevention of homelessness all the way through to this cohort of people the we need to get off of the street now. 

"It's an educational thing and also a conversation. You know 'I can't give you any money but I'm happy to buy you a sandwich or get you a drink' and having those conversations are really important. "

Mark wants people to know that people are being helped: 

"The council have for the last two years been running a rough sleepers initiative. With that we have been working with some great local charities and mental health workers to try and help the rough sleepers off their addictions.

"So far 61 people have been helped but there is a lot of work to do. Those people who have been helped are just starting their journey.

"There is hope. I met someone the very first time I went out who was suffering with drug addiction and involved with criminal activities. It was great to hear when I went out again that that person is now in emergency accommodation and is beginning the journey off their addiction."

If a member of the public sees a person sleeping rough and has an immediate concern for their health and wellbeing - they should call 999.

Overnight, at weekends and on Bank Holidays, contact StreetLink who will connect with local services by calling 0300 500 0914 or contact: www.streetlink.org.uk.

And, Monday to Friday 9:00am to 4:45pm reports can be made directly to AVDC's Housing Service by calling: 01296 585168 or by completing the online report. 

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