The organisation which runs the Foyle Haven in Derry’s John Street says that giving cash to people begging on the streets may do more harm than good.
DePaul Ireland which operate the day centre for homeless people and those dependant on alcohol, is fronting a new campaign ‘Begging for Change’ which was launched yesterday along with the charity ‘Welcome Organisation.’
Recently the Foyle Haven service was put at risk of closure due to a funding crisis, however was saved by a last minute funding package.
The Begging for Change campaign aims to highlight common myths on begging and encourage the public to give responsibly.
Ms. Kerry Anthony MBE, CEO of Depaul, comments: “As organisations, our main aim is the health and wellbeing of those involved in street activity and ensuring they get access to the supports they need.
“There has been increased visibility of people begging on the streets of Belfast over the last few years, and people remain confused as to what they can do help.
“The ‘Begging for Change’ campaign examines why people beg, and the link between begging and homelessness. “People tend to combine the two issues, but in reality most people who beg are not homeless and most people experiencing homelessness do not beg.
“The ‘Begging for Change’ campaign emphasises that giving money to people who beg is not a benign act without consequences.
“The experience of Depaul and the Welcome Organisation shows that begging is often symptomatic of a wide range of issues including addiction, mental illness, and social isolation and cash donations to people begging on the streets can worsen or prolong these issues.
“The campaign encourages anyone who is interested in helping those they see begging on the streets to support a registered charity of their choice working on the ground to address homelessness, poverty and addiction.”
Ms. Kerry Anthony added: “We believe that everyone has a right NOT to beg, and we urge the public to work with us, not against us, to achieve this goal.”
Foyle Haven day centre provides accommodation, food and support services to vulnerable members of the local community including the homeless and street drinkers.