Give to Sheffield charities, not beggars directly, urges new city campaign

Aaron, aged 22 and of Hillsborough, used to beg on the streets and now sells the Big Issue
Aaron, aged 22 and of Hillsborough, used to beg on the streets and now sells the Big Issue
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The best way to help Sheffield beggars is to donate to charity rather than putting money in their hands - according to a new campaign.

Sheffield Council, South Yorkshire Police and city charities are behind the awareness drive to highlight the support and services available in Sheffield.

If people want to help those begging on the streets, they are encouraged to donate to local charities that provide food, shelter and support, or to buy the Big Issue magazine rather than handing over cash as it can be ‘counter productive.’

Former Sheffield street beggar Aaron Rooke says charities were what helped him take a step in the ‘right direction’.

The 22-year-old, who slept rough for eight months after becoming homeless due to a relationship breakdown, now sells the Big Issue, lives in temporary accommodation and has hopes of going back into kitchens as a chef.

He said: “You think you’re helping the beggars by giving them money but you are not - you are making it worse.”

Aaron said he had used money handed to him to buy alcohol and cannabis to ‘block out things’ but now he relished getting up at 7am to work.

He added: “I feel a lot more4 pride in myself and like there is a lot more hope.”

Coun Isobel Bowler, cabinet member for neighbourhoods at the council, said: “We know there are people who currently give money to people who beg because they want to help.

“However we are saying to these generous people that the best way to do this is to give to the organisations who already provide support and help to people on the street

“We understand that this might feel counter-intuitive but we know what makes a real long-term difference are the organisations who work with people to address the issues they face.”

The Cathedral Archer Project, based at Sheffield Cathedral, estimates there are around 40 people who regularly beg for money in the city centre.

It wants to provide support earlier to help people off the street.

Tim Renshaw, chief executive, said: “When people are begging and can make a living from begging, some people don’t see a reason to stop.

“And it’s not a good life – it’s an impoverished one and issues are not being dealt with which led someone to beg in the first place.

“We can improve people’s lives incredibly -and that’s what we’re here to do.

“We really want people to be generous and keep on giving, but want them to know that giving to people begging on the street can be counter-productive.”

The campaign is also backed by Big Issue North.