Hot food from charities is not bringing the homeless to Portsmouth, says organisation

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  • Charity hits out after city council officer’s comments that city residents are being ‘generous in the wrong way’ by feeding the homeless
  • However, Don’t Hate, Donate CEO admits there is ‘truth’ in comments
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HOMELESS people are not coming to Portsmouth from other cities due to the support from our charities.

That’s the view of organisation, Helping Hands Portsmouth after comments from the city council that there is a rise in homelessness due to the generosity of charities.

A homeless person from Cardiff is not going to think “I fancy a hot bun, I should go to Portsmouth!”

Liesl Rose, Helping Hands Portsmouth

Elaine Bastable, the council’s housing options manager said at a meeting between organisations and the authority on Saturday that a reason for the increase in numbers was due to ‘people being generous in the wrong way and feeding people on the streets’.

But Liesl Rose of Helping Hands Portsmouth said: ‘That is just rubbish and a completely simplistic interpretation of the situation.

‘A homeless person from Cardiff is not going to think “I fancy a hot bun, I should go to Portsmouth!”.

‘Most of the people that we help in the city are those that are from here and have grown up here. I have never spoken to any of the homeless people we have here who says they came here for the support that charities offer.

‘They tend to pass through from city to city, it is not just Portsmouth where numbers are increasing. It is a nationwide issue that needs addressing.’

Ms Rose added that she would have to do some ‘serious soul searching’ if she walked past a homeless person in need.

Ms Bastable’s comments came as churches across the city pledged to open their doors to provide hot food and 
shelter for the homeless during the winter months.

Lesley Wenden from the LifeHouse Food Kitchen in Southsea agreed with Ms Bastable at the time, stating people come from Andover and Brighton ‘because they can get everything they want’.

CEO of Don’t Hate, Donate Chantelle Burton said there was ‘some truth’ in the comments.

Ms Burton’s Portsmouth-based group offers fresh meals for the homeless in Guildhall Square every Saturday.

She said: ‘I think there is some truth in that people come to Portsmouth due to the great work its grassroots charities does. But a lot of them are passing through and are fleeing other cities for various reasons.’

She backed the new initiative but said that it was only part of the solution.

Ms Burton said that the council needed to better engage with the homeless while they were staying in churches in order to understand the ‘root cause’ of how they came to be without a home.