Four metal collection boxes are now in place in Shrewsbury town centre – to encourage people to donate money directly to local homelessness charities, rather than giving it to someone begging in the town’s streets.
Located at Frankwell Footbridge, Pride Hill (outside Tesco Express), The Square (outside The Co-Operative Bank), and Shrewsbury Railway Station (near the car park exit), the blue metal boxes were unveiled today (Thursday 4 February 2016) by the Mayor of Shrewsbury, Councillor Miles Kenny.
They have been put in place as part of the new Alternative Giving scheme, which is being run by the Team Shrewsbury partnership (see notes). The scheme has been introduced as many people who beg are not actually homeless or sleeping rough, and many beg to feed a drug or alcohol habit.
Posters and metal signs to promote and raise awareness of the Alternative Giving scheme have also been put up around the town centre.
The money collected in the boxes will be distributed by Shrewsbury Ark, The Rough Sleepers Task Force Group and Shrewsbury Street Pastors, and 100% of all donations will go to help the homeless and vulnerable individuals in Shrewsbury.
The collection boxes have been manufactured free of charge by Shrewsbury firm Salop Design & Engineering Ltd.
Councillor Miles Kenny, Mayor of Shrewsbury, said:
“When you hand some change to a rough sleeper in the street, you probably think you’ve just helped to provide that person with the means to buy a warm drink or some food.
“What many people don’t know is that many rough sleepers are not actually homeless and beg to feed a drug or alcohol habit. Police officers often see rough sleepers with amounts of food and drink, but continuing to ask for money.
“The aim of the Alternative Giving scheme is to highlight what good work can be done if spare change is donated directly to a local homelessness charity.
“The Shrewsbury Alternative Giving scheme will support projects that work with homeless people in the town to help them off the streets. All money given by kind-hearted Shrewsbury residents and visitors will be spent on charitable work to help those in need, instead of going towards alcohol and drugs.
“We want people to change the way they give, and ask them to donate to charities which help the homeless, rather than to people on the street. The message we want to get across is that the best way to help people who beg on the streets of Shrewsbury is to make a donation in one of the new collection boxes rather than giving money directly.”
Donations can also be made at www.shrewsburyark.co.uk.
Team Shrewsbury is a partnership of Shropshire Council, Shrewsbury Town Council, West Mercia Police, Shropshire Fire & Rescue Service, Shrewsbury BID, Shrewsbury shopping centres, Shrewsbury Street Pastors, University Centre Shrewsbury, British Transport Police and the Safer Shrewsbury partnership.
Team Shrewsbury is about equipping and empowering local people to identify and solve local problems, ultimately making Shrewsbury a better place to live, work and play.
The Shrewsbury Alternative Giving scheme also aims to highlight that:
- Most people sleeping rough do not beg, and most people begging do not sleep rough.
- Many people who beg have drug or alcohol problems.
- Nobody needs to be homeless – council services and charities can help those without a home.
- Giving money to a beggar can potentially kill, if it feeds a drug or alcohol habit.
- Beggars in Shrewsbury might not be from the town.
- Begging is a criminal offence.
- Some beggars masquerade as buskers.