"Loose change feeds problems, it is not a solution."  

A shop front, a man or woman sitting looking cold and dishevelled, and before them a small box containing loose change; as Christmas approaches it is a scene that challenges the conscience. How should one respond?

 In Darlington, both the local authority and voluntary agencies are working hard to combat the rising number of people begging in the town.  People beg for many reasons. Many claim to be homeless, but this is rarely the case. Some beg to feed addictions.  Some are supplementing their benefits. Whatever the motivation, it is lucrative.  In Darlington begging can raise an average of about £50 a day, though we have spoken to people who tell us they have gained £180 in a day, especially now that the weather has turned cold.  A generous member of the public who gave £35 to a person claiming to be homeless to get a bed for the night subsequently discovered, through Facebook, that 180 people had done the same for the same person!  The person, however, did not stop a single night in a B&B.

It is human instinct to want to help. All of the agencies trying to combat begging know that the individuals involved have needs.  However, handing money to those begging removes the motivation to address the need behind the begging.  By giving to the agencies that support individuals begging, you help to change lives rather than answer the needs of a day.

 Every individual begging in Darlington is known and spoken to regularly by Police, Local Authority and Voluntary Agencies. In the town we have the resources to meet all their needs, including accommodation, and offers of help with both accommodation and other issues are made repeatedly. However, the easy money gained from begging makes help easy to refuse.

Something to think about -  There are currently 14 people begging regularly in Darlington. They make around £50 a day, but sometimes a lot more. If they beg 5 days a week, that means that Darlington people are handing over around £150,000 / annum; what a difference that money could make to their lives if used appropriately.   

"Help us to help those who beg on the streets of Darlington"