New Crawley campaign to tackle rise in homelessness and begging

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A new campaign to help Crawley’s homeless will launch after a rise in rough sleeping and begging in the town centre.

Crawley Borough Council, local homelessness charities, Crawley Open House and St Mungo’s Broadway, Sussex Police and Crawley Business Watch will launch the Make Change Count campaign on Wednesday (November 25).

A council spokesman said representatives from the partnership will encourage the public to give responsibly to support rough sleepers from 10am to 2pm at County Mall and The Bandstand in Queens Square.

Cllr Stephen Joyce, Cabinet member for Housing, said: “Our aim as a council, first and foremost, is to make sure rough sleepers in Crawley know exactly how they can get help and support and encourage them to engage with those services. Some people who find themselves in these situations need support and guidance and by donating your time and money to dedicated charities we can make sure that this is provided to as many people as possible.”

Cllr Michael Jones, Cabinet Member for Public Protection and Community Engagement, added: “There is a lot of help available to rough sleepers in Crawley and while our main priority is to ensure their safety and wellbeing, we need to also accept that rough sleeping in town centres has an impact on fear of crime and safety. The organisations will be working together over future weeks to move people on while ensuring they are fully aware of how they can access a range of support quickly and easily.”

Charlie Arratoon, Director of Crawley Open House, said: “We provide support services for those suffering the effects of homelessness, unemployment, loneliness, discrimination or other forms of social exclusion. Our support service is available to anyone in need.

“This event will help inform people about the level of help available locally and how they can give responsibly.”

Petra Salva, Director of Street Outreach services at St Mungo’s Broadway, said: “We believe everyone should have a place to call home and be able to fulfil their ambitions and we work with people to achieve that. If someone is sleeping rough, or involved in a negative street activity, such as begging, that is harmful and dangerous for those individuals and for local communities.

“While we recognise the concern and compassion shown by giving money directly to those on the streets, ultimately people in distress and rough sleeping need services that will support them off the streets for good, giving them the opportunity for longer term solutions such as better housing, health and work as they move on with their lives.”

A council spokesman added: “Crawley Borough Council and partners work closely to encourage people to take advantage of a range of available support in the town. For example, St Mungo’s Broadway and Crawley Open House help with access to accommodation, as well as looking at employment, skills and addressing ill health and addictions.

“This work is ongoing and has led to some real successes in supporting rough sleepers into accommodation and towards a different lifestyle through tailored support. Unfortunately, many of those begging and sleeping rough have declined the support offered to them due to the money they raise through the illegal activity of begging.

“Some of these people already have pending homelessness applications and offers of accommodation in other local authority areas and have no connection to Crawley. All the organisations involved in this work are urging the public to support them by giving responsibly – donating time, money, food, clothing and hygiene products is a much more effective way of supporting homelessness in the area.”

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