At the Shelter, we are asked frequently for our opinion on members of the public giving money to people begging in the street, who are claiming that they need money to meet the service charges so they can stay in the Night Shelter.
Recently, Colchester Borough Council and Essex Police have launched a campaign called “Your Kindness Kills” – which in simplistic terms aims to make the public aware that up to 80% of Colchester’s Homeless people actually have somewhere to stay, and in some cases, some people have been known to earn £100 a day in begging. The scheme is also trying to circumvent people using the money for drugs or alcohol, which of course just adds to the issues that they may have. It is backed by multiple charities in Colchester, including ourselves.
It is true that we charge our clients a Service Charge to stay at the Shelter of £3.00 a night. This assists us with the overhead costs (such as Heating, Water, Meals etc.) It is a stipulation that clients are in receipt of a passported benefit on admission (Job seekers, Employment Support Allowance ect.) or are working to cover the rent and service charges.
We also provide full budgeting advice and run courses at the Night Shelter for our clients.
As long as a client is engaging, we are likely to grant payment arrangements for extenuating circumstances if a clients truly cannot get the money or is not at fault. We would only not allow someone in if we knew that they had spent their income on other things . It is part of a clients stay at the Shelter that we assist in supporting with budgeting and managing finances – which of course includes paying the £3.00 each night.
If you are concerned for someone who you see in the street and would like to help, please either give them food or other necessities but please do not give them money. If you would like to help cover a clients service charges, please ask the person for their name and give us a quick call. We would be happy to work with you and take the payment directly – thereby eliminating the chance for people who are simply not being truthful to get they money disingenuously. For other amenities, there are many other agencies that can assist.