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How to help homeless on streets

Posted onPosted on 25th Nov
How to help homeless on streets

Members of the public are being reminded to ‘make your fiver go further’ when supporting the homeless community this winter.

As the weather turns colder, many people become more aware of the street community and want to do something to help.

Mansfield District Council is encouraging town centre visitors to donate to existing support organisations rather than hand cash to people who appear to be homeless or those who are begging.

Coun Marion Bradshaw, portfolio holder for safer communities, housing and wellbeing, said: “We are very fortunate to have such a generous and supportive community here in Mansfield. The most obvious way to feel like you are helping is to hand over some cash but in reality this is unlikely to increase the chances of them finding a way off the streets. Your money will go further if you donate to one of the existing charities or groups that work daily with our street community.

“They don’t just provide food, but expertise in dealing with a wide range of long-standing and complex issues to help someone who is homeless to make positive, permanent changes to their way of life.”

The appeal ties in with the Mansfield Street Support campaign, which the council launched in 2018 in partnership with Nottinghamshire Police, Framework and is backed by the Mansfield Homeless Network and the town centre Business Improvement District (BID).

The campaign aims to raise awareness of local charities and groups which are helping the Mansfield street community, and to ensure that offers of cash, food and volunteering time are directed in the best way.

The website has information about where to get support, how to donate money, food and clothing, and how to volunteer.

It lists support services available in Mansfield, including soup kitchens, so people can see what is already in place, and has a link to the street outreach team for people to report any sightings of rough sleepers to ensure they are offered specialist support.

Insp Nick Butler, district policing commander for Mansfield, said: “As a police officer I share the determination of many people in our community to improve the lives of some our most vulnerable residents.

“In my experience the best way to do this is not to give money and other donations directly to people you see on the streets, but to donate instead to the excellent local charity and support groups that work every day to support the people who sleep rough and beg on our streets.

“That’s because cash donations can be used to fund the drug and alcohol addictions that in many cases have led people into the unfortunate positions they are in.

“As a result they are pushed further from the support they need and towards the type of offending that negatively impacts businesses and residents.”

The Mansfield Street Support information campaign reinforces the work of a multi-agency task force in the district which is tackling rough sleeping and homelessness, and the issues surrounding it, through a targeted programme of outreach work and, where needed, enforcement action.

On the front line are dedicated complex case workers and specialists in mental health and substance abuse, engaging directly with rough sleepers in Mansfield to encourage them to accept help. Not all of them want to accept help initially and it takes time to build trust in those offering that helping hand.

Supporting those most in need, day to day, are soup kitchens and special street community surgeries for those with medical needs.

If you are concerned about someone who appears to be rough sleeping, contact the outreach team on 0800 0665356 or text SOT to 80800 followed by your message.