Bexley Community Safety Partnership (BCSP) is asking local people to think carefully before handing out food, cash or goods to rough sleepers as this may help them sustain their situation instead of accepting assistance from the professional teams who are desperately trying to support them.
Seeing people sleeping rough out on the street can be difficult. It is natural for us to want to help them out of the situation they are in, and it can be hard to just walk by.
Rough sleepers are among the most vulnerable people in our society. Sadly, due to a range of challenging life experiences many suffer with mental and physical health issues which have, in turn, led to problems with alcohol and drugs misuse. Your spare change or belongings will not fix these problems and may, in fact help fund that situation.
Instead, more can be done to help by donating to established homeless charities. Organisations like Streetlink and Thamesreach can help rough sleepers, working together with other partners, to make sure they get the right long-term support including long-term health issues, suitable housing and training.
Bexley, does not have a high number of rough sleepers. As a Council together with our key partners, including the police, health authorities and London Fire Brigade, we know the difficult histories of those sleeping regularly on our streets and, with our outreach service, Streetlink, work tirelessly to offer tailored help.
Unfortunately, despite regular offers of accommodation and other support, some rough sleepers choose not to take this and stay on the street.
Chairman of the Bexley Community Safety Partnership and Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing, Cllr Sue Gower MBE said:
People sleeping rough will often be doing so following trauma such as relationship breakdown or an ongoing struggle with significant mental health issues. It may seem hard to hear us asking you not to provide food or cash to rough sleepers but we do so with the best intentions.
Please do not think that rough sleepers are not on our radar. They very much are but often reject our help as they are sustained in their current situation by individual public donations of cash or food.
We want desperately to help them out of their situation, but this isn’t easy and needs their agreement – it takes time and the right professionals to provide the care and support they need. By donating to official organisations rather than giving them cash, food or goods you can help provide that care."
If you see a rough sleeper that you are particularly concerned about contact Streetlink London via their website. You could also download the Streetlink app.
Rough sleepers can be vulnerable to being victims of crime and anti-social behaviour. If you are concerned about antisocial behaviour in our town centres in connection with rough sleepers, you can report it to the police. In an emergency, call 999. For non-emergency reports, call 101.
You can find out more by visiting www.bexley.gov.uk/antisocial
If you want to help rough sleepers you could donate or volunteer for one of the below organisations. They are set up to provide the right kind of help to our local rough sleepers.
Find out more about the Bexley Community Safety Partnership.