Bury St Edmunds shoppers urged to change the way they give to help the homeless after increase in aggressive begging
A campaign is being relaunched to urge shoppers to donate directly to a charity rather than people on the streets in Bury St Edmunds after an increase in aggressive begging and anti-social behaviour in the town centre.
Looking for Change is in aid of Bury Drop In and donations will help those who have been sleeping rough, stayed in temporary accommodation while receiving support for mental health and addiction issues and who are ready to move into a more permanent home.
It follows a sharp rise this year in street drinking, aggressive begging and anti-social behaviour in the town centre, which according to the authorities is being caused by people who ‘have their own home or are jeopardising their place in temporary accommodation’.
Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds which represents town centre businesses, said: “While the council, police and Our Bury St Edmunds are working together to address this ongoing issue, one of the ways people can help is by simply not giving money to anybody on the streets. If you want to help those people who are genuinely rough sleeping please donate to the Looking for Change campaign.”
The campaign launched last autumn and raised about £6,000 for Bury Drop In, which supports the homeless.
Chairman David Bonnett said it has provided equipment to help people study, allowed a victim of childhood abuse to access therapy sessions which has helped them stay clean from drugs and start their own business and the money has bought furniture.
Inspector Matt Paisley, of Bury St Edmunds Police, said there was a ‘balance between the people who are genuinely in need and those who are preying on the public’s goodwill’.
In September 2018, there were 36 rough sleepers in West Suffolk compared to 20 last month with 11 in Bury including one in the town centre.
Within that period, there were 126 instances in which West Suffolk Council has helped rough sleepers into accommodation.
Davina Howes, assistant director for families and communities at the council, said Looking for Change is ‘about giving the right help to make a real difference to people’s lives’.
The campaign is also being backed by Bury Town Council and the Bury Free Press.
Greg Luton, town clerk at the town council, said: “We all want to help those who are less fortunate than ourselves and we aren’t asking anybody to stop caring or helping – just to do it in a way that may not feel the most gratifying but will offer the individuals the greatest chance of turning their lives around.”
Barry Peters, editor of The Bury Free Press, added: "One of the hottest topics in Bury St Edmunds is the situation regarding begging.
"Most people want to help where they can and the Looking for Change initiative helps everyone to do that in a controlled way while ensuring the money is used in the most productive way possible."
- To text donate type BSE and the amount - for £5 for example type BSE5 - and send to 70085 or donate online at https://burydropin.echoleft.com/fundraising/bury-looking-for-change/donate
More by this authorPaul Derrick