Barnsley residents will have the option of texting donations to a new alliance set up to help the town’s homeless as an alternative to giving to those out on the streets.
The move is one of the measures put in place under the new Barnsley Homeless Alliance, which brings together the council, health service and many other bodies to try to tackle the problem and improve the lives of those affected.
But their strategy has been carefully developed to try to offer help – rather than stigmatise – those affected by homelessness.
A new system is being set up which will allow those who want to help but are cautious about giving to individuals to send money by text, in the knowledge it will be used to offer constructive help to those in need.
All local authorities now have a legal duty to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping and Barnlsey Council has adopted a new strategy to take action.
The alliance goes further, however, and brings together a wide range of organisations which will be working in partnership in future, with a desire to also involve the community.
That could be through volunteering or making financial contributions towards the work aimed at helping those who find themselves without a home.
More than 1,500 people approached the council for help with finding a home or keeping the one they have last year and they were able to offer help in almost half those cases.
However, the reasons people end up without a home are often complex and the new arrangement is designed to allow those with knowledge and expertise to help individuals work through the problems which have left them on the streets.
It is acknowledged there are links between homelessness, poor health and problems in finding employment, with the alliance working to combat those issues in future.
The public are being encouraged to support those who end up begging by donating their time through volunteering, providing money through official donations or if they are helping those on the streets to do so by providing food and drink rather than money.
Buying magazines from Big Issue sellers is also the preferred way for people to offer support if they want to give cash to those on the streets.
Coun Jenny Platts, Barnsley Council’s communities spokesperson, said: “We have made positive progress over the last five years in supporting those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, but we know more needs to be done.
“Our primary focus is to prevent homelessness in the first place and helping those who are homeless to build a better future.”
Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central and Elected Mayor of Sheffield City Region, added: “We must all take collective responsibility for providing practical support to those who find themselves sleeping rough or begging on the streets.
“Volunteering time, donating goods or simply stopping to make sure someone knows about the help available in Barnsley will make a real difference.
Details of how to make donations or offer help are available at the Barnsley Homeless Alliance website, barnsleyhomelessalliance.org.uk