Joint campaign asks people to ‘make a change’

Published Wednesday, 31st October 2018

cllrs and Partners in front of campaign

Joint campaign asks people to ‘make a change’

Make a Change - a partnership between Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Southend BID, Essex Police, Streetlink and local homelessness charities - is just one part of delivering a detailed action plan for the High Street following the summit held on Monday 24 September.

The campaign has been launched as Southend-on-Sea faces an increase in rough sleepers in the town and also aggressive begging which is causing issues for local shoppers and businesses.

The campaign has two key aims:

  • to encourage people to consider donating to local homelessness charities instead of giving change to street beggars
  • to encourage people to alert Streetlink to any rough sleepers – this sends a notification to the council who will send outreach staff to engage with them

Cllr Tony Cox, Cabinet Member for Adults and Housing, says: “It’s often hard to walk past a person on the street without doing something. Giving change only provides immediate relief and can enable and even encourage life on the streets.

“So we are asking people to consider giving to a local homelessness charity and also alert Streetlink to any people rough sleeping. It is likely that we will already know them but you can never be too sure. Alerting Streetlink allows our outreach team to visit them and attempt to support and connect them with services.”

Cllr James Courtenay, Deputy Leader of the Council, says: “This campaign is not about telling people what not to do, but it does ask people to consider making a change to how they give. By supporting local homelessness charities people can contribute to supporting someone get off the streets for good.

“We also hope the campaign discourages aggressive begging, a key action from the High Street summit and a current issue in the local area. Aggressive begging is intimidating and unwanted and has a detrimental impact upon our local community and needs to be deterred.”

The campaign will initially centre on the new website Make a Change, and highly visible posters, public information vans and leaflets in the High Street and surrounding areas, plus a social media campaign #SouthendChange.

Chief Inspector Neil Pudney, Southend’s District Commander said, “The Make a Change Campaign is being set up by partner agencies in response to concerns voiced by the local community.

“This is about showing compassion to the vulnerable by giving donations to homeless charities so those who really are without accommodation get the right support they need from the variety of support services and charities in Southend.

“We also want to stop aggressive begging where members of the public have reported feeling intimidated.

“The Make a Change Campaign is a really innovative approach to tackle this.”

Alison Dewey, Southend BID Manager said, “I hope ‘Make a Change’ helps to bust a few myths and challenges preconceptions by showing people just how many services and organisations are already dedicated to these complex issues.

“A simple gesture of kindness, such as offering to give someone some change can be an enabler. I’ve been out with our Street Rangers and been told by people begging that they can ‘earn’ up to £70, which often goes to support a drug or alcohol dependency problem.

“So, the new Make a Change website has been designed to be informative and helpful, with professional advice about how best to help people on the streets. For example, by donating to one of the recognised charities listed on the website, rather than putting loose change into a paper cup. There are difficult issues at play around lifestyle, addiction and mental health problems, so it is better to give to expert organisation who can help engage with these vulnerable people. You’ll find many answers to your questions and some inspiring details about the work that is being done every day to help people less fortunate and more troubled than ourselves.”

Jackie Bliss, Chief Executive of HARP, one of the local charities involved, said “It’s fantastic to see the Council, Southend BID and police taking a lead in addressing some of the more common misconceptions around rough sleeping and begging in the town. It’s important the public are armed with the facts, and this extra support in promoting all of the amazing services that are available in the town, including HARP’s, is most welcome. Ultimately, if more people engage with services, more people, be they homeless or not, will overcome their issues to live healthy, positive lives.”

Rob Carvosso, Project Manager for Southend Vineyard Storehouse, said: “We are really pleased to be supporting this initiative in conjunction with our partners. It is a great way of dispelling some on the myths around homelessness and some of the behaviour in the town, and highlighting some of the great work that is already being done in the town to support our community.”

For more information please visit the Make a Change website, to let us know about a vunerable person on the street please visit the Streetlink website.