31 Oct 2018
A charity in Bury St Edmunds is asking the public to think about how and why they give to homeless people on the street.
The Bury Drop In Centre has launched an alternative giving campaign called “Looking for Change” which encourages people to help the homeless by text or online donations.
A team of volunteers at the Drop In work provides support for vulnerable people in the town. They serve food and a warm drink to people who are rough sleeping as well as working to help rough sleepers get a roof over their head, any support they may need, improved health, education, clean clothes, a job and to reconnect with their families if they want to.
David Bonnett, one of the founders of the Bury Drop In said: “People see those less fortunate than themselves and they want to help. The issue, however, is how they help.
“Some people will buy them a coffee or a sandwich and that is perfectly fine. Many will give money and sometimes that is then spent on the same substances that then make it more difficult for them to stay in accommodation. We also know that some of the people that we see on the streets aren’t rough sleepers at all, but others taking advantage of the public’s goodwill.
“We are asking the public to look to make a real change by donating to our charity to support our work in helping genuine rough sleepers sustain a life off of the streets.”
The campaign is backed by a number of partners including West Suffolk councils, Our Bury St Edmunds which represents town centre businesses in the town, Suffolk Police and Bury St Edmunds Town Council.
Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, Cabinet Member for Housing at West Suffolk councils, said: “Our aim is to reduce homelessness including rough sleeping. In recent months we have taken on more rough sleeper support workers and we’ve expanded the capabilities in our team to include expertise in addiction and mental health. We have also invested in securing extra beds so we have enough in place to help the vast majority of the rough sleepers that we presently have. We can however only help those who are ready to be helped. That is why the role of the public in how they give is so crucial to helping people off of the streets.”
Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds said: “We would urge local residents and visitors to the town to back the important work of this local charity. We know that people want to help and that giving has to be simple. By supporting Looking for Change we hope that we can make a real difference.”