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Begging campaign will cause deaths
6:00am Thursday 5th December 2013 in Southend
ROUGH sleepers will die on the streets and crime will rise because of a campaign to discourage giving money to beggars, a homeless woman claims.
Ann-Marie Miles, 53, has been living on the streets for three years.
She says she relies just as much on people giving change to survive as she does gifts of food and the help of churches and homeless charities like Harp.
She said many rough sleepers in Southend were concerned about the “Killing with Kindness” campaign being led by PC Martin Knights and supported by homeless charities.
The campaign discourages people from giving change to beggars on the basis that it may be spent on drugs or alcohol, that some beggars are not actually homeless, and that begging is a criminal offence.
But Ann-Marie said charities and churches were struggling to cope with the number of homeless people in Southend and, as a result, many people will still rely on begging through the winter.
She said: “I have a care-of address for benefits, but they were stopped ten weeks ago because a letter got lost in the post, so I need to beg.
“If PC Knights carries on with this campaign, you are going to find a lot more shop-lifting, muggings and burglaries, which people will be doing just so they can survive.
“The situation is getting ridiculous out there.
“Churches are so full there isn’t enough space for all of us when it comes to getting hot meals and people forget that staying in a hostel or night shelter costs money. It costs £50 a fortnight to stay in a hostel and £15 a week for a night shelter.”
She added she had a homeless friend, a Lithuanian Cambridge graduate who succumbed to alcoholism, about whom she was particularly concerned.
She said: “I can’t see her getting through another winter – not without the help of the general public.
“Charities like Harp are run by wonderful people, but they can only do so much.”
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