Residents in St Austell who want to help those in need are being urged not to give money to individuals begging in the town and instead support a project helping to feed the vulnerable.
Last year Safer St Austell, which is a multi-agency partnership working to reduce and prevent crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour, established donation points across the town so those wanting to help others could donate and feel confident their money was going to those most in need.
As we prepare to come out of lockdown and high street shops get ready to reopen, members of the public are being reminded to think twice before giving cash to people begging.
Since the initiative was launched last year, almost £500 has been donated via the six donation boxes hosted by businesses in the town. Outreach teams who provide on the street support have distributed this money to people in need as vouchers, which are then exchanged for food and drinks at the local support charity STAK.
Councillor Rob Nolan, Portfolio Holder for Public Protection at Cornwall Council, said: “People feel a mix of sympathy and upset when they see on-street begging, and it can sometimes be intimidating. “These donation boxes are an excellent way for people to show concern and feel confident that funds will be used directly to help those who are vulnerable.
“Once the restrictions are eased I’d also urge people to support local Big Issue sellers who have been unable to earn a living during lockdown.”
Councillor Sandra Heyward said: “These collection boxes are a convenient way to enable the community to support those individuals in need. It still is ok to offer a hot drink or meal, but you can also signpost to agencies such as STAK for daytime support. We are so thankful to the community for supporting the donation boxes and promoting ways to help.”
Annette Miller, St Austell BID Manager, said: “We want to make it easy for people to donate money to the charities supporting vulnerable individuals. We are encouraging the community to donate through the boxes so that their support can be directed in the best way. We want to thank everyone who has donated especially during this difficult time.”
The donation boxes are located at the Co-Operative, White River Fish Bar, St Austell Leisure Centre, Tengo, The Natural Store and JD Wetherspoon. If you run a business in the town and would be willing to accommodate a donation point please contact St Austell BID by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not everyone begging is homeless but if you see someone sleeping rough you can contact Streetlink via www.streetlink.org.uk or 0300 500 0914 (or 999 if they need urgent medical assistance).
Once we receive a report from StreetLink, Cornwall Housing, working on behalf of Cornwall Council, will coordinate an outreach team to locate the person sleeping rough to offer support. This will include supporting them to safe accommodation, working with them to assess their immediate needs and engaging with them to discuss underlying issues which may contribute to them living on the streets.
Each person will be encouraged to work with us to agree a move-on plan that addresses not just their housing needs, but the support they need so they don’t end up returning to a life on the streets.