‘Don’t give money to the homeless’ - says senior councillor

A homeless rough sleeper

A SENIOR councillor has warned people not to give money to rough sleepers.

Cllr Graham Burgess from Gosport Borough Council says that giving money to rough sleepers could be feeding drug habits in the town.

Cllr Graham Burgess

He says there are some rough sleepers who are ‘refusing help’ when offered accommodation.

The news comes after the council teamed up with Fareham Borough Council and homeless charity Two Saints to provide an expanded winter shelter service.

Cllr Burgess is now urging people to think twice before handing over money.

He said: ‘There’s a couple of people in the high street and bus station who are refusing the offer of accommodation.

‘I went out with council officers last week and though they were given new sleeping bags, clothing and food vouchers, they declined the offer of accommodation.

‘One of the main concerns that I have is that these people could be getting large amounts of money, which could be used to buy drugs.

‘It would be a shame for anyone to be taking advantage of good-natured Gosport residents.

‘If people see them it would be better to give them a hot drink or some food instead.

‘We just want to help people – these people don’t have anywhere else to go and through our partnership with Two Saints, and the work Inclusion does in the high street, we want to put an end to homelessness in Gosport.’

Trevor Pickup, chief executive of the Society of St James, said: ‘Rough sleepers refuse accommodation for a number of reasons – some of them might not feel comfortable in a hostel, others may have been asked to leave a hostel in the past, and some are set up in a good place for begging – so choose to stay out on the streets.

‘We have been campaigning for some time now for people to instead give money to charity, or to give rough sleepers food – but people continue to give them money.

Regional director of Two Saints James McDermott said: ‘We fully engage with all rough sleepers on a daily basis to offer night shelter provision.

‘For those people that choose not to come in, our outreach worker continues to support their safety and wellbeing.’

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