‘There’s A Better Way’ campaign launched to tackle begging and promote giving

Councillor Sharon Thompson, whose portfolio includes homelessness, talks about the council's ‘There’s A Better Way’ campaign to tackle begging and promote giving at digital sites across the city

Today we launch our ‘There’s a Better Way’ campaign across the city in partnership with the West Midlands Combined Authority. Over the next two weeks these two posters will be displayed prominently at key points around the city making the point that ‘There’s a Better Way’ than giving to someone who is begging on the street or at the road side. Instead of giving money to someone begging, the ‘better way’ is for the public to donate to Change into Action through www.changeintoaction.org.uk

As Councillors we know only too well how emotive it is being asked for money on the street by someone who may appear to be homeless. We also know that the people of Birmingham are generous and want to help, but sometimes it is not easy to know how best to help or what the true circumstances of the individual are. So, we are not telling people what to do but are highlighting that we believe there is an alternative, a better way to help those in most need.

By donating directly to Change into Action you can be sure that your money will directly and  personally help someone who has been sleeping rough. Trusted local charities and street outreach teams work with anyone who has been sleeping rough to identify those things that can really make a change to their life. All the funds received go directly to help an individual. None will go to the Council.

No one need sleep rough in Birmingham, and we have seen a marked reduction in the number of people sleeping rough in the last 2 years. Birmingham City Council funds street outreach services 7 days and nights a week as well as health and treatment services and accommodation to ensure there is always a bed available.

We know that many people who beg on the streets are not sleeping rough but are often vulnerable for other reasons, and for them there is also the offer of help. We are especially concerned about individuals begging at roadsides and amongst traffic as they are putting themselves and the public at risk.

If you are concerned that someone may be sleeping rough then please report it  through www.streetlink.org.uk/ The notification will go directly to our street outreach team who will follow up with an offer of help.

We know that it is hard to know what to do for the best when approached by someone begging but we believe there genuinely is a ‘a better way’ than giving money directly. By giving to Change into Action you know that your money will be used wisely, and it will directly benefit someone who has slept rough. Already through the generosity of the people of Birmingham and local businesses over £90k has been raised and this has provided grants to over 400 people to support their move off the street’

All donations are welcome, big or small. To give you an idea of what your money can buy we have put together a simple guide. Donating £4 provides a day’s bus pass to go to appointments with homelessness services, £10 basic kitchen items when moving into self-catering accommodation and £50 will buy new clothes that fit and give confidence to their new owner, and £450 buys the basic furniture for a flat.

We also need your help to spread the message about the Change into Action campaign. The best way to do this is to send the ‘There is a Better Way’ images to family and friends using social media. We want to get the posters seen by as many people as possible so that the message reaches all our communities. So please help by promoting the ‘There is a Better Way’ posters as widely as possible to your social networks.

So, our message is simple. There is ‘a better way’ to help, by giving through Change into Action, you can be sure that your money directly helps someone who has been sleeping rough. And if we are concerned about someone who may be sleeping rough, notify the street outreach team, through streetlink, and they will follow up with an offer of help.

Change Into Action

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