Harrogate Homeless Project tells residents to 'think before they give' to beggars

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A Harrogate homeless charity has called on residents 'to think before they give' to beggars in the town.

The Harrogate Homeless Project is among the organisations endorsing a poster which advises that 'a few beggars are homeless, but most have homes or at least access to accommodation and benefits'.

A public awareness campaign is being developed asking residents to 'think before you give'

A public awareness campaign is being developed asking residents to 'think before you give'

It forms part of a developing campaign with partners including Harrogate Borough Council, and those listed on the poster including the Safer Harrogate District Community Safety and North Yorkshire Police.

It aims to 'reassure the public that very few people assumed to be rough sleeping are in fact street homeless', says Liz Hancock, Chief Executive of HHP.

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She said: "There are many people begging in the town centre who are in fact accommodated. We are working with HBC and partners to run a public awareness campaign."

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The advice comes after warnings from the Met Office for cold weather this week, which is often a source of concern when considering the homeless.

Liz said: "HHP runs a 16 bed hostel for adults and also a 5 bed emergency bed scheme, where overnight shelter and support is provided."

"We operate 365 days a year, but particularly in the cold weather we encourage anyone who is sleeping rough to come indoors – we do have spaces and there is no charge for emergency accommodation.

"If our emergency beds become full, we have other options we can use, so that no-one needs to sleep rough.

"If members of the public are concerned about anyone they believe may be sleeping rough, then please let them know that help is available from Harrogate Homeless Project, or if they prefer people can phone our 24 hour staff team on 01423 566900 to make us aware.

"We work very closely with other partners including Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire Police, and monitor the extent of rough sleeping on a week by week basis, providing daily targeted intervention to those known to be sleeping rough and to encourage them indoors.

"For those who are not willing to access emergency shelter we do provide sleeping bags and warm clothing as well as warm snacks and drinks overnight, from our hostel on Bower Street.

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"HHP also runs a day service, Springboard, providing hot meals and refreshments, showers, laundry, and support across a wide range of issues including access to benefits, health appointments, and accommodation needs. There is no charge for any of these services."

The full poster reads as follows:

Think! before you give

Begging... uncovering the facts

Many of us will gladly give money to beggars, thinking it will help make their life easier. Sometimes however, this money can feed a dependency, and prevent them seeking the support they need. There are several myths around street begging in the Harrogate district - here are the facts

MYTH

All beggars are homeless

FACT

A few are, but most have homes or at least access to accommodation and benefits. Support is available to those in need of accommodation.

MYTH

Beggars do not have access to food.

FACT

Free food is available daily from a variety of charitable sources. No one needs to go hungry in Harrogate.

MYTH

“I cannot go to the homeless hostel as it charges me and I have no money.”

MYTH

People who beg are unable to access any support for substance misuse or mental health issues.

FACT

Emergency accommodation at the Harrogate Homeless Project is free of charge.​

MYTH

People who beg are unable to access any support for substance misuse or mental health issues.

FACT

Support and assistance is available on a daily basis

MYTH

“I can’t get benefits because I’m homeless”

FACT

You can still claim benefits - you don’t need a fixed address to claim them