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Charity calls for public to change the way it gives to the homeless

PUBLISHED: 12:10 31 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:38 01 November 2018

Left to right: Sonia Plume, acting inspector at Bury St Edmunds, Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds, David Bonnett, Bury Drop In co-founder, Greg Luton, Bury St Edmunds town clerk, Sara Mildmay-White, cabinet member for housing, Andrew Speed, chairman of Bury Town Council, Robert Everitt, cabinet member for families and communities, and PC Paul Fox, community engagement officer Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD

Left to right: Sonia Plume, acting inspector at Bury St Edmunds, Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds, David Bonnett, Bury Drop In co-founder, Greg Luton, Bury St Edmunds town clerk, Sara Mildmay-White, cabinet member for housing, Andrew Speed, chairman of Bury Town Council, Robert Everitt, cabinet member for families and communities, and PC Paul Fox, community engagement officer Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD

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A Bury St Edmunds charity is calling for the public to change the way it gives to homeless and vulnerable people in the town to ensure they get the support they need.

The Bury Drop In Centre has launched an alternative giving campaign which encourages people to help the homeless by text or online donations.

The campaign – called ‘Looking for Change’ – is being backed by a number of partners including west Suffolk councils, Our Bury St Edmunds, which represents town centre businesses, Suffolk police and Bury St Edmunds Town Council.

The Drop In Centre, which operates from Trinity Methodist Church in Brentgovel Street on Tuesdays and Fridays, provides more than 700 hot meals each month.

Its volunteers also work to help rough sleepers get a roof over their heads and any other support they may need with employment, health issues or education.

David Bonnett, one of the charity’s founders, is urging people to change the way they donate to support the centre’s work.

“People see those less fortunate than themselves and they want to help,” he said. “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 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 the streets.”

Mr Bonnett added that the charity sees four or five new people on average each week, and that numbers are “steadily increasing”.

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.”

People can support the Bury Drop In by texting WROO36 £(amount) to 70070 or visit www.justgiving.com/burydropin

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