There has been much comment in recent days about organised street begging being linked to trafficking and all the awful pitfalls which come with this type of criminal activity.
Although this has been highlighted in the local media, I do not believe that enough is being done to inform residents of the difference between this type of criminal activity and those who are rough sleeping and homeless, as the latter are not linked to this sort of fraudulent begging.
Neither is this opinion piece long enough to describe the full differences.
We have some outstanding agencies working in this city who help those who are genuinely in need – Brighton Housing Trust’s First Base and St Mungo’s to name just two.
These agencies work continually with those who have, for all sorts of reasons, found themselves in a situation in which they require assistance.
Most of us are only two wage packets away from finding ourselves in a situation in which we need help and most of us are fortunate enough to have either family or friends we can turn to should the need arise.
However, some people are not so fortunate but there is no need for anyone to sleep rough if they genuinely require assistance, a bed or a hot meal – as BHT and St Mungo’s will always provide this type of help.
What we find hard is passing someone on the street who is asking for money as we believe they are in need and have no one to help them.
Sadly, most of these are people are feeding a habit – or worse, a trafficking gang’s criminal profits – and they really are looking for money rather than help.
We can best genuinely help these people by directing them to the likes of BHT and St Mungo’s.
They have the experience and expertise in providing proper assistance to spur a big and lasting genuine change.
Offering the support that people really need is much better all round than just giving them more small change.
Councillor Steve Bell is the leader of the Conservative group on Brighton and Hove City Council.