There's A Better Way campaign launched
‘There’s A Better Way’ campaign to tackle begging and promote giving launched at digital sites across the city
Birmingham City Council has launched ‘There’s a Better Way’ campaign across the city in partnership with the West Midlands Combined Authority. Over the next two weeks two digital 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’ posters are asking the public and local businesses to donate to Change into Action through www.changeintoaction.org.uk
Speaking at the launch Councillor Thompson, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Homelessness said ‘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 the public can be sure that their 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.
Councillor Cotton, Cabinet Member for, Social Inclusion, Community Safety and Equalities said ‘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 people are concerned that someone may be sleeping rough then they need to report it through www.streetlink.org.uk The notification will go directly to the councils street outreach team who will follow up with an offer of help.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Change into Action has helped make a real difference to those rough sleeping or at risk of doing so in the West Midlands, and I want to thank all the residents and businesses who have donated so generously to the scheme knowing the difference it makes.
“With Change into Action directly supporting and funding specialist homelessness charities and street teams, I hope people will continue to show their support and donate money.”
Councillor Thompson added ‘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’
Council Cotton added ‘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.’
To help to spread the message about the Change into Action campaign the council is also asking people to send the ‘There is a Better Way’ images to family and friends using social media. The council wants to get the posters seen by as many people as possible so that the message reaches all communities.