Shoppers told: Don't give cash to beggars and help the homeless
Shoppers are being told not to give to beggars in Wolverhampton, under a scheme designed to stamp out nuisance begging but help the homeless at the same time.
It is hoped the Alternative Giving initiative, which has been backed by Wolves captain Danny Batth – will help ensure money goes directly to helping genuine homeless people in the city.
Earlier this year a council boss said that one beggar was earning up to £500 on the city's streets.
And research shows that just 19 per cent of people begging in the UK are actually homeless.
The other 81 per cent were found to be begging were using profits made to buy drugs, alcohol or simply to fund their lifestyle.
The Alternative Giving scheme has now been set up by the Wolverhampton BID Co Ltd, backed by the police.
It aims to ensure that money goes direct to service providers and charities that help the homeless in Wolverhampton. Under the scheme, from early May 2016 people will be able to make a donation in a number of collection boxes for the scheme that are being put in place in locations found around the city centre.
Inspector Sarah Thomas-West West Midlands Police, said: "We work with the Wolverhampton BID to resolve issues around nuisance beggars in the city ? carrying out operations and regular police patrols.
"We want to help those people who are on the streets, who have complex needs and struggle to access services – by directing them to benefits, housing, alcohol and substance abuse services or mental health support.
"But begging is an offence – and can intimidate members of the public – and those who ignore warnings will be arrested by officers and taken to court."
Anthony Walker, Wolverhampton council's Homeless Strategy and External Services Manager, said: "We are fully behind this scheme which will support projects that work with vulnerable homeless people across the city.
All money given by kind-hearted Wolverhampton residents and visitors will be spent on charitable work to help those in need improve their current circumstances by offering them accommodation, assistance and advice.
"The aim is to highlight the good work that can be done if spare change is donated directly to local charities working with vulnerable people.
"The best way to help people positively change their lives is by homeless organisations and the public working together."
Wolves captain Danny Batth added: "When I helped to sell the Big Issue with the regular seller in Wolverhampton city centre before Christmas, it was a real eye opener to learn more about homeless people and their efforts to improve their lives.
"Hopefully the people of Wolverhampton will support Wolverhampton BID to try and ensure those people who are trying to get back on their feet get as much help and support as possible."