Make a Change
Updated: Aug 25
The multi-agency diverted-giving website, Make A Change, has now launched.
The joint campaign is aimed at ‘helping people to live a life off the street, not on it’ and challenges the misconceptions around rough sleeping and begging and highlights the best ways members of the public can donate time and/or money to make real change to individual's lives.
A joint campaign with Southend BID, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Essex Police and Streetlink and local homelessness charities, it is aimed at ‘helping people to live a life off the street, has launched.
This is just one part of delivering a detailed action plan for the High Street following a summit held on Monday 24th September.
Due to Southend's increase in the size of the street community who are aggressively begging and causing anti-social behaviour for businesses and visitors alike.
The campaign has two key aims:
- To encourage people to consider donating to local homelessness charities, instead of giving money to individuals on the street
- To encourage visitors to alert Streetlink of any rough sleepers. Altering means a notification is sent to the council who will then inform outreach staff to engage with them.
Cllr James Courtenay, Deputy Leader of the Council, says: “This campaign is not about telling people what not to do, but it does ask people to consider making a change to how they give. By supporting local homelessness charities people can contribute to supporting someone get off the streets for good. We also hope the campaign discourages aggressive begging, a key action from the High Street summit and a current issue in the local area. Aggressive begging is intimidating and unwanted and has a detrimental impact upon our local community and needs to be deterred.”
Chief Inspector Neil Pudney, Southend’s District Commander said, “The Make a Change Campaign is being set up by partner agencies in response to concerns voiced by the local community. This is about showing compassion to the vulnerable by giving donations to homeless charities so those who really are without accommodation get the right support they need from the variety of support services and charities in Southend. We also want to stop aggressive begging where members of the public have reported feeling intimidated. The Make a Change Campaign is a really innovative approach to tackle this.”
Alison Dewey, said, “I hope ‘Make a Change’ helps to bust a few myths and challenges preconceptions by showing people just how many services and organisations are already dedicated to these complex issues. A simple gesture of kindness, such as offering to give someone some change can be an enabler. I’ve been out with our Street Rangers and been told by people begging that they can ‘earn’ up to £70, which often goes to support a drug or alcohol dependency problem. So, the new Make a Change website has been designed to be informative and helpful, with professional advice about how best to help people on the streets. For example, by donating to one of the recognised charities listed on the website, rather than putting loose change into a paper cup. There are difficult issues at play around lifestyle, addiction and mental health problems, so it is better to give to expert organisation who can help engage with these vulnerable people. You’ll find many answers to your questions and some inspiring details about the work that is being done every day to help people less fortunate and more troubled than ourselves."
Jackie Bliss, Chief Executive at HARP, one of the local charities involved, said “It’s important the public are armed with the facts, and this extra support in promoting all of the amazing services that are available in the town, including HARP’s, is most welcome. Ultimately, if more people engage with services, more people, be they homeless or not, will overcome their issues to live healthy, positive lives.”
Rob Carvosso, Project Manager at Southend Vineyard Storehouse, said: “We are really pleased to be supporting this initiative in conjunction with our partners. It is a great way of dispelling some on the myths around homelessness and some of the behaviour in the town, and highlighting some of the great work that is already being done in the town to support our community.”
Alongside the website, there will be highly visible posters, information vans and leaflets in the High Street and surrounding areas, and social media hashtag #SouthendChange.
The website can be viewed at www.bit.ly/2De1X8eThe.