The month-long campaign is fronted by homeless charities Depaul and the Welcome Organisation, and is supported by Belfast Lord Mayor Alderman Brian Kingston, the Belfast Policing and Community Safety Parternship (PCSP), Belfast City Centre Management, PSNI and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.
The campaign aims to highlight common myths on begging and encourage the public to give responsibly.
Kerry Anthony MBE, CEO of Depaul, commented: “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.”
— Depaul (@DepaulIreland) June 20, 2016
Kerry Anthony added: “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.”
— NIFHA (@NIFHA) June 20, 2016
Sandra Moore, Director of the Welcome Organisation, stated: “We provide outreach support every night on the streets of Belfast from 8am to 1am the following morning. We also have a Day Centre where people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness can come and access support. In 2016, there is no reason why people should need to beg on the streets.”
— NIFHA (@NIFHA) June 20, 2016
Belfast Lord Mayor Alderman Brian Kingston said: “My primary theme as First Citizen is ‘putting citizens first’ and one of the priorities I said I would promote is Belfast as a compassionate and caring city. I am extremely proud of the people of Belfast as they show time and time again that that they want to help those who are less fortunate than themselves.
“That admirable trait is evidenced every single day by those who work with Depaul and the Welcome Organisation who are like guardian angels on our streets. They personify the compassionate nature of our citizens in their care and concern for the people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Belfast.”
Cllr. Matt Garrett, Chair of the Belfast PCSP, said: “I welcome the launch of this new campaign by Depaul and the Welcome Organisation to provide advice to the public wishing to assist vulnerable individuals in our cities and towns.
“It is easy to understand why caring members of the public think they may be helping by handing over money to someone on the street – but begging can often be a method used to obtain money to fund addictions and other negative activity. This is clearly a sensitive issue and we hope the campaign will increase awareness of the issues and the alternative and most effective ways to help those most in need and actually make a difference.”
— Kerry Anthony (@KAnthonyDepaul) June 20, 2016
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.”
The ‘Begging for Change’ campaign will be highlighted with ads on bus stops, billboards and digital screens across Belfast, and a radio ad on Q Radio Belfast and U105.