BEGGARS are making up to £200 a day on the streets of Leamington claim charity chiefs.
Helping Hands – which supports rough sleepers and vulnerable people across the district – say much of the money is then spent fuelling drug and alcohol addictions.
Chairwoman Lianne Kirkman is urging people to instead give money to charities which help support people to kick addictions and find a home.
She told the Observer: “Sadly, people can earn up to £200 a day sitting on the streets in Leamington and then this money regularly gets used in a non-productive way, often to help feed an addiction.
“It’s really hard for the general public to know who is an addict and who isn’t, so as a general rule, we say avoid giving money out to any individual and instead direct individuals to local services where they can be helped in a better way.
“If the money can also be directed to local charities, it means we can continue our work to help people off the streets and even expand the services we currently offer. There’s so much more that could be done if money was ploughed in the right direction.”
The charity has in recent months worked to get people off the streets and into work, and even to be in a position to rent accommodation.
But Lianne was adamanat such help was only possible if the money was given to charities rather than directly to beggars.
She added: “It sounds harsh, but having worked for years with people who are homeless and those with addictions, it is those who have managed to get themselves out of addiction who now say to us that we should not be giving money out on the streets.
“That alone gives me enough confirmation to know we are definitely giving out the right advice and may just save someone’s life in the process.”
The Observer spoke to a regular beggar in Leamington who was unwilling to say if he was homeless or had an addiction, but he denied he made £200 a day. He would not however tell us how much he did make.
Warwick District Council, Warwickshire Police, The Salvation Army, BID Leamington and the Royal Priors Shopping Centre have previously run ‘Killing with Kindness’ campaigns, urging people to give money to homeless charities rather than directly to those begging on the street. The campaign aims to eliminate begging in Leamington which bosses say fuels drug and alcohol addiction.