Taunton Deane Borough Council has teamed up with the Avon and Somerset Police to help homeless people in Taunton in launching a diverted giving scheme.
It means that people can donate money directly to the local charity Open Door rather than giving to people begging on the streets.
Open Door will use the cash to provide meals, showers, laundry and support to rough sleepers from its base in Mount Street.
Councillor Jane Warmington, Executive Councillor for Community Leadership, said: “It’s difficult to ignore the problem of rough sleeping on the streets of Taunton especially at this time of year. However, not everybody who is begging is homeless and it is not always in their best interests to give money which could be used to fund harmful addictions. Making a donation through the diverted giving scheme means you can be sure that your money is helping at a practical level to provide the essentials that rough sleepers really need.”
Neighbourhood Police Sergeant Andy Gloyn said: “When it comes to begging and substance misuse there is a balance to be struck. Our aim is to work with our partners to help people to get into a stable lifestyle, rather than penalise people who are vulnerable. However the wider community should not be subjected to aggressive, abusive or anti-social behaviour. We regularly patrol the known hotspots for street drinking and begging.”
“That is why we are working with Taunton Deane Borough Council and The Open Door Charity on the diverted giving scheme.
“It encourages people who want to help those genuinely living on the streets at this time of year to donate to the central collection point, of through the BT My donate scheme.
“It means rather than giving money to people begging, which could be squandered, it can be used to provide food, clothing and washing facilities including showers for people who are rough sleeping.”
You can donate to Open Door by post or in person at 1A Mount Street, Taunton TA1 3QB or online at www.mydonate.bt.com and search for Taunton Open Door.
There is also a collection box at the Taunton Visitor Centre at the Market House in the town centre, which is open from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday to Saturday.
Posters and pockets cards giving details of the scheme are being distributed this week.
Councillor Jane Warmington, Executive Councillor for Community Leadership, 01823 430734.
Becky Howat, Public and Media Relations Support Officer, 01823 356407.