Raising awareness about the alternative options to giving money directly to beggars and rough sleepers
Many people begging in Aylesbury and elsewhere in the Vale have mental health issues or have substance misuse addictions – either alcohol or drugs. There is overwhelming evidence that people who beg on the streets do so in order to buy drugs or alcohol to support their addiction and while they can do this they do not engage fully with the services that are available to help them make a positive change to their lives.
Living on the streets can lead to a severe deterioration in a person’s health and well being – and even death. The life expectancy of a rough sleeper is significantly reduced; to between 42 and 47 years old, depending on gender.
The Spare change or Real Change? campaign aims to raise awareness of alternative options to giving directly to the homeless and rough sleepers.
The campaign is designed to encourage residents and visitors to be comfortable in saying ‘no’ to street beggars and instead donate money to and support local charities who help tackle the complex issues associated with homelessness and rough sleeping.
So how can you help?
It is difficult to walk past someone in need. But, we ask that, instead of giving spare change to people who beg, you work with us to make real change
Donate – to one of our partner charities listed below. They are all working hard in Aylesbury and elsewhere in the Vale to bring about real and sustained change to the lives of people at risk of becoming street homeless and those already on the street The comprehensive and client centred help that we offer includes helping to address mental health or substance abuse issues, providing or assisting them to find accommodation and sustain a tenancy along with support and advice.
Volunteer – In addition to our partner charities there are other groups, listed in the directory of support services highlighted in the FAQ document, that are always looking for volunteers to support their work – be that helping to prepare meals, putting together food parcels, sorting clothing or just taking time to talk to guests.
Chat – if you have the time stop and talk to a person on the street. Show that you care about their situation. You might be able to help direct them to a service that can start their journey to real change.
In-kind assistance – By all means buy a cup of tea or food for people on the street if you wish. But ask first – as even homeless people may have food allergies or intolerances. Also, see the directory of services that lists places that offer free meals for people who need help and support.
Aylesbury Vale District Rough Sleeper Initiative Project
Buckinghamshire Council , supported by funding from the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, is working in partnership with a number of local services including Aylesbury Homeless Action Group, Oxford Health, Oasis, One Recovery Bucks, Connection Support, Aylesbury Town Centre Partnership, Thames Valley Police,Vale of Aylesbury Housing, Advance Housing and private landlords to deliver a project solely focused on Rough Sleeping.
This specialist partnership team allows funding to be delivered locally to rough sleepers who require support with mental health, drugs and alcohol, housing support and maintaining their homes. We have housed over 60 individuals as a part of this project (December 2019) who were either homeless or about to become homeless in the Vale. Our partnership team and the assistance they offer are as follows;
Offering housing related support to those threatened with, or finding themselves.homeless. Working with people over 18 years of age that Buckinghamshire Council does not have a statutory responsibility to support.
The Oasis Partnership is a charity that provides high quality social and psychological support services to improve health and well being. They work in partnership with many different organisations, aiming to help individuals to address their substance misuse problems and get their lives back on track.
Supporting those affected by drugs and alcohol in Buckinghamshire. The service is free and confidential, serving adults 18+. One Recovery Bucks is led by Inclusion (part of Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust) working with the Oasis Partnership and Connection Support.
Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust provides physical, mental health and social care for people of all ages across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Swindon, Wiltshire, Bath and North East Somerset. Its services are delivered at community bases, hospitals, clinics and in people’s homes.
The Town Centre Partnership brings together local government, businesses, residents and local organisations. The result has been a programme of initiatives which have helped to transform the area, improve safety, support businesses, attract new investment and new retailers and increase footfall. The Partnership provides the opportunity to work together, to explore cross-promotional initiatives, develop business performance and a platform to raise issues, ideas and concerns that are pivotal to the success and development of the town.
The Town Centre Neighbourhood Team is focusing on the homeless community and vulnerable community in and around the town. Proactive engagement directed at identified homeless and vulnerable persons are carried out by PCSOs. In conjunction with partner agencies we provide these persons with a direct point of contact to ensure the most appropriate onward help is provided.
Thames Valley Police and the wider partnership also work with clients that are housed but use alcohol in the public spaces and town centre, this includes work with services so that these clients can address their health and addiction and also with the town centre businesses and police so that the town centre is a place that everyone feels safe and can enjoy.