An increase in the number of people sleeping rough and begging in Crawley town centre has prompted action.
The borough council, Sussex Police, Crawley Open House and the homeless charity St Mungo’s Broadway have banded together to highlight the best way that members of the public can give help to those in need.
The organisations say that public donations of cash ‘go further’ when they are given direct to homeless charities rather than to people begging on the street, or sleeping rough.
Crawley Council says it works closely with other agencies to make rough sleepers aware of a wide range of support available to them including accommodation, employment, and help with ill health and addiction.
Said a spokesperson: “Unfortunately, a number of people begging or sleeping rough have declined support due to the money raised through the illegal activity of begging. Some of these people already have pending homelessness applications in other towns and have no connection to Crawley.”
Councillor 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.”
And fellow Councillor Michael Jones added: “There’s 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.”
And Petra Salva, director of Street Outreach services at St Mungo’s Broadway, added: “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.”