Harlow Council respond to growing problem of rough sleepers in town centre

News / Tue 27th Nov 2018 am30 07:57am

A number of readers have contacted us regarding the growing presence of rough sleepers and beggars in the town centre.

We plan to run a series of pieces on this but we first asked Harlow Council to give us their view on the issue.

A spokesperson said: “Both rough sleeping and begging can be related but should be treated as separate issues. Rough sleeping is an emotive issue and one which we will always respond to in a sensitive manner. People sleeping rough who are homeless are always encouraged to seek help from local charities. There is support and help available from a variety of organisations like Streets2Homes, Chocolate Run and the local churches and we have a package of measures in place to specifically support rough sleepers.

“Behind every rough sleeper’s story there is often many different circumstances and complex situations. Unfortunately some rough sleepers reject specialist support and being given cash can encourage them to stay on the streets. We would much rather get rough sleepers off the street and into a warm bed and supported where they can get specialist help. We know that our residents are community spirited and just want to help but giving rough sleepers money can actually make their situation and health worse and discourage them from seeking any help. Rather than giving cash, we ask the public to encourage rough sleepers to ask for help or give them something to eat or a hot drink. Alternatively residents can donate money to local charities that support the homeless.

“We are aware of an increase in professional beggars operating in the Town Centre and instances of aggressive begging, which can be distressing for our residents who see it or are approached. It can also be very difficult for residents to work out who genuinely needs help, but by not giving money or offering an alternative like food or a hot drink is always the best solution. Professional and aggressive begging is becoming a problem and we are looking at what measures can be taken to discourage both, but before any action is taken we would always consider all the options available to us.”

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