Have A Heart – Give Smart

The homeless and begging situation in the town centre has recently reached very high levels of people on the streets.  Co-ordinated work with many agencies and the Council is ongoing, including the recent public event for World Homeless Day on Broad Street on the 10 October 2017.

Continuing this co-ordinated approach, the BID is working with Launchpad (a respected Reading homeless charity) on a new initiative called “Have a Heart – Give Smart” a campaign to discourage the public giving directly to beggars, but helping by contributing to local charities dealing with homelessness.  The reasons to adopt this initiative are overleaf.

The BID is looking for local businesses lto host a collection box for members of the public to donate.  Through Launchpad these donations will be directed to some of their projects and associate charities in the local area responsible for providing services to Reading’s homeless community.

The BID is also looking for businesses who might consider nominating Launchpad as a focus for their charitable giving in 2018 and 2019.  If your business can host one of these collection boxes please contact BID Manager Bobby Lonergan and he will liaise with Launchpad to follow up.  If you would like to explore working with Launchpad as your business’s nominated charity, please contact Jason McMahon

Should I give money to beggars?

Did you know that the majority of beggars are not homeless?

Money given to those begging in the town will very likely be used to fund an addiction to Class A drugs such as heroin.  By all means offer a drink or some food rather than cash, but we would ask you to please donate to local charities and agencies that can provide appropriate and specialist support.

Begging and rough sleeping aren’t necessarily the same.

Not everybody sitting in a shop doorway begging is sleeping rough.  There is evidence that shows most beggars have access to their own accommodation.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t need help.

Those begging and drinking on the streets but who have somewhere to stay may need a different type of support from local services.  There is a lot of help by way of food and clothing etc. provided in the town for the street homeless.  There are over 200 bed spaces for single homeless people and there is a “Pathway” to help vulnerable people restart their lives.

Is there help for rough sleepers?

St Mungo’s outreach team regularly monitors Reading in the early morning to find people who are sleeping rough, either for the first time or with a history of complicated problems that make it difficult for them to move off the streets.  Outreach workers can offer help but can’t force people to get help; they must want to help themselves.

What can I do to help?

If you are concerned about someone you think is sleeping rough, contact www.streetlink.org.uk or call 0300 500 0914.  They will connect that person to the most appropriate support.  Do not feel that you have to approach someone to ask them about their situation.  Local services are able and willing to support people with complex and multiple needs and those who are sleeping rough.

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