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Saturday 23 August 2014

Don't give handouts to homeless but call helpline, public told

Charlie Cooper

Published 11/12/2012 | 05:00

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The public should not give money or food to the homeless, the British housing minister has said, urging people instead to ring a new "homelessness hotline" which will alert a network of charities who can help.

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The new national helpline for members of the public concerned about a rough sleeper in their area, StreetLink, is billed as an alternative to handouts and is backed by 500 homelessness charities. The scheme, which has been tested successfully in London, Liverpool and Manchester, is backed by the Housing Minister Mark Prisk who urges people to offer "a hand-up, rather than a handout".

"Most people know that giving money or food won't help a rough sleeper find a home, get the healthcare they need, or simply put them in touch with the support available to make sure they don't become entrenched in the lifestyle or living on the streets," Mr Prisk said. The government is providing £250,000 (€310,000) funding for the helpline. Matt Harrison, from the charity Homeless Link, which is managing the project, said that the question of giving money to homeless people was "a matter of conscience" for individuals.

"There are people who have worked with homeless people for years who still routinely give spare change and there are people equally experienced who prefer not to and will put people in touch with services instead," he said. (© Independent News Service)

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