CHESHIRE West and Chester Council have launched an initiative actually aimed at NOT giving money to homeless on the streets this festive period.
The ‘Your Kindness Could Kill’ campaign instead encourages Cestrians and those who come to Chester to donate money to organisations with the capability to provide help.
The Council claims the vast majority of people arrested for begging in Chester during the year have drug and alcohol problems and in turn, generosity from the public over Christmas could feed their addictions and lead to serious mental and physical health problems.
Dr Gordon Morse, Clinical Lead at health and social care organisation Turning Point, said: “Not everyone who asks for money on the street misuses drugs or alcohol, but evidence suggests a vast majority do use money gained through begging to fund their drug dependency or buy super strength alcohol.
“By giving money, people could be unwittingly supporting someone’s addiction and perpetuating the health risks associated with substance misuse, social isolation and a cycle that could involve committing crime to feed a drug habit.
“Instead we need to work as a community to support individuals to access the support they need to turn their lives around.”
Inspector Steve Precious, of Chester Inner Neighbourhood Policing Unit said: “It is perfectly understandable that people should want to help those less fortunate than themselves – particularly at Christmas.
“However, the reality of the situation is that there are far more effective ways of giving real and lasting help through the specialist organisations set up to do just that.”
A similar campaign took place in Liverpool last year, with Councillor Peter Brennan telling the BBC people in Liverpool are “renowned for their generosity” and they “put their hands in their pockets” when they see someone “struggling”.
Chester’s ‘Kindness Could Kill Campaign’ will be advertised on posters and beer mats at strategic points around the city and in its pubs and clubs.
More will follow when The Intelligencer receives a response from homeless charities.