People have been asked not to donate tents to anyone living on the streets – as they could be doing more harm than good.
Empty beds in safe environments went unused after kindhearted well-wishers offered the tents, prompting Nottingham City Council to take action.
Kimberley Pike, Nottingham City’s rough sleeping co-ordinator, wrote on Twitter: “We understand that people give tents to try to help. The fact is, it rarely does. It enables people to live on the streets.”
— My Nottingham 🏹 (@MyNottingham) January 22, 2020
Responding to the statement on Twitter, Neil Skinner, communications manager at Framework Housing Association, said donating tents is not an approach they would recommend.
Framework aims to empower rough sleepers to overcome the challenges they are facing and provide the support to enable them to live independently.
“TENTS CAN ACTUALLY SUSTAIN THEM IN A SITUATION THAT IS HUGELY DAMAGING”
NEIL SKINNER, COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER AT FRAMEWORK HOUSING ASSOCIATION
Neil said: “There are so many cases where giving people sleeping bags or tents can actually sustain them in a situation that is hugely damaging to their mental and physical health, which I am sure is the very last thing that people want to achieve.”
Last week a Severe Weather Protocol was activated after temperatures dropped below zero.
The protocol is part of the new initiative ‘Help Out Nottingham’ which was set up by Nottingham Business Improvement District (BID), Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire Police, and has partnerships with charities such as Framework Housing Association, Emmanuel House and The British Red Cross.
A website was launched at the end of last year as part of the new initiative, which aims to raise awareness of the services and support available in Nottingham.
The website includes misconceptions and tips on the best ways in which you can help those who are suffering, encouraging people to donate to a local charity rather than giving food, money and clothes directly to those on the street.
Some misconceptions about begging, rough sleeping and homelessness:
- Myth: There is no difference between rough sleeping and begging.
- Truth: Many people asking for money on the streets have homes. The natural human reaction is to give, but a safer use of your money is to donate to a homeless charity.
- Myth: Dogs are not allowed in hostels
- Truth: Framework’s London Road and Sneinton Hermitage hostels both allow service users to come in and stay with a dog.
- Myth: Giving money directly to homeless people is the most effective way to help them.
- Truth: Giving people on the streets money, food or clothes directly isn’t the best way to help them. Many rough sleepers are living with problems that no amount of gifts or short-term help can solve.
Donations can be made on the site, which ensures the money goes directly to charities which work towards long term solutions for the homeless.
Neil added: “In short, homeless people on our streets need a lot more than just a roof over their heads; they need long-term support to overcome the many other challenges in their lives.”