1. ITV Report

Council urges people to support homeless charities - not beggars

A council in Norfolk wants people to support homelessness charities rather than handing money to beggars Photo: ITV News Anglia

People in Norwich are being urged to support local homeless charities rather than hand over money to beggars.

The city council's launching the campaign following a similar scheme in Cambridge last year.

It claims more and more beggars are moving into Norwich and can be pocketing up to £50 a day.

"There's loads of fantastic charities in Norwich and we've got loads of people supporting this but we want to break that view - the connection between begging and homelessness. It isn't. The begging is connected to drugs and alchohol," said Cllr Bert Bremner.

It's a view supported by Simon Gravell, a Big Issue seller in Norwich who used to work in the fishing industry before he lost his job. He gets annoyed when people accuse him of begging.

He said: "I absolutely hate it because begging's easy - all you have to do is sit down in a doorway. I have to try and sell this magazine to people who don't really want it at £2.50 which is quite a challenge.

"I know beggars who operate in Norwich's clubland on a Friday and Saturday night who earn a lot more than £50, getting money from people who're having a good night out and carefree with their money.

"I would applaud any scheme that genuinely seeks to help homeless people rather than fund those who more often than not will spend the money they get on drugs or alcohol."

But one beggar in Norwich, who gave his name as Mike, laughed at suggestions he could be earning £50 a day. He said he had been forced onto the street after having his disability benefit stopped.

"I agree with anything that will try and help the homeless but I think people should be free to give their money to whoever they want. If people want to give it to beggars it's up to them - they shouldn't be told to give it to charity," he said.