A new ‘text to donate’ service has been introduced in Darlington to offer a simple and easy alternative for those wanting to help those who beg.
The new initiative is the latest development in the ‘Have a Heart, Give Smart’ campaign, spearheaded by the 700 Club, Darlington Borough Council, Durham Constabulary and other partners.
The campaign aims to encourage members of the public to give to a charity that works with those who beg, rather than giving money directly to beggars.
The 700 Club is the lead partner on an outreach programme to help those who are begging in the town. John Elliston explained:
“Giving money to those who beg does nothing to tackle the problems they may be facing, and in some cases that act of kindness can prove fatal. Our experiences in Darlington is that homelessness is rarely the reason people beg, while begging to feed an addiction is common.
“We’re working with our partners to deliver an outreach programme to help support those who are begging so that they no longer need to beg, and we’re urging people not to give money to individuals begging on the street.
“A more positive option would be to make a donation to support those who are working hard to help them and the new ‘text to donate’ initiative makes that even easier.”
Councillor Jonathan Dulston, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for community safety, said:
“Our Housing Options Team and community safety staff work in close partnership with the Police and voluntary agencies to ensure help is available.
“We know many people also want to do what they can to help, but giving money to someone begging is not always the best way to do so.
“Perhaps offer them a drink or some food instead and if you do want to help financially, consider a donation to a relevant charity. And if you use the ‘text to donate’ service all the money raised will go to support the outreach programme in Darlington.”
Inspector Chris Knox, from Durham Constabulary, added:
“It is human nature to want to help and think that by giving money to beggars you are showing compassion to those who appear to be living on the street. But the stark reality is that your compassion does more harm than good.
“Every beggar in Darlington is known and is spoken to regularly by either ourselves, the local authority or integrated voluntary agencies. We have the services to support those who are sleeping rough and in need.
“If people wish to help by giving money, they should consider a donation to a charity like the 700 Club instead. That way they can be sure their money will directly, and properly help those who need it.”
To donate to the 700 Club text BEGGING to 70085 and a donation of £5 will be made.
Alternatively, you can choose how much you want to donate (from £1 to £20, in whole pounds) – simply text BEGGING followed by a number between 1 and 20 (ie BEGGING1, BEGGING17) and a donation of the specified amount will be made.
Money donated by this method is specifically used to help fund the charity’s work with those begging.
To find out more or to donate online visit www.700club.org.uk/appeal/begging
If you are homeless, or worried about someone who is, call Darlington Borough Council on 01325 405333 (from Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm) or Streetlink on 0300 500 0914 (24 hours)
For more information visit the website at: https://www.darlington.gov.uk/housing/finding-a-home/homelessness/