Police campaign ‘Your Kindess Could Kill’ warns generous shoppers against feeding drug and alcohol addictions by giving beggars loose change

Ipswich Winter Night Shelter which supports homeless people in Ipswich. Volunteer registered nurse J

Ipswich Winter Night Shelter which supports homeless people in Ipswich. Volunteer registered nurse Jillian Lawrence treating the feet of a man who uses the night shelter. - Credit: Archant

Suffolk police have warned charitable people giving spare change to beggars this Christmas to think before parting with their cash.

The poster campaign ‘Your Kindness Could Kill’, launched in August, highlights that money given to beggars could end up killing them if it is used to feed drug or alcohol addictions.

Instead, police are encouraging generous shoppers with spare change to donate to local charities which can help homeless people.

Inspector Chris Hinitt, local policing commander for Ipswich central, said: “As Christmas approaches, it is a time when people are buying lots of gifts and festive food for the big day.

“Seeing someone sitting out in the cold with little belongings begging for loose change can make you feel guilty.

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“But we are issuing a timely reminder that there are a large amount of services available, and we would encourage you to donate your money to local charities instead.”

In Ipswich alone, there are over 30 agencies across a 24 hour period that are able to help those who are homeless or sleeping rough, including Ipswich Soup Kitchen, Assertive Street Outreach, Health Outreach NHS and Town Pastors.

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The Ipswich Winter Night Shelter was also launched earlier this month, which provides a bed, shower, supper and breakfast for a dozen homeless people each night until March.

Since Christmas last year, officers have targetted begging in town through the Ipswich Locality Homelessness Partnership (ILHP), which brings organisations together to produce tailored support packages and a long term solution to those in need.

Roger Fern, chair of ILHP, said: “As partners, we’ll be actively working together over the holidays to offer support to people who are homeless and/or rough sleeping to help them off the streets, as we do all year round.”

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore added: “The reasons that people beg varies tremendously and it is a complex issue which I am very pleased to see is being addressed using this multi-agency approach.

“My role as Police and Crime Commissioner is to ensure that we help vulnerable people and this is a key element of my Police and Crime Plan.”

Those concerned about someone sleeping rough can call 0300 500 0914 or visit streetlink.org.uk to connect people to local support services.

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