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Warning begging survey will only stigmatise homeless

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​Glasgow undertakes survey to gather public views on begging in the city

A Glasgow campaigner who helps the city’s homeless has criticised moves to question the public over how they feel about beggars, claiming it further stigmatises homeless people.

Frank Hardie, a street pastor, says a survey from Community Safety Glasgow – a body made up from Police Scotland and Glasgow City Council – highlights begging as a problem and isn’t concerned with solutions to homelessness.

The online survey asks about attitudes to beggars and people’s experiences of aggressive or hostile behaviour. On street interviews are also set to be conducted.

Why doesn’t the council just ask about people’s attitudes to homelessness?

Criticising the move, Hardie said: “Begging is a response to homelessness and poverty, not a lifestyle choice. I’m not sure why the public is being asked about how they feel towards begging.

“Why doesn’t the council just ask about people’s attitudes to homelessness, to poverty? Few filling out such a survey will be doing so for positive reasons: people inspired to go online will be doing so to complain about begging. It’s skewed and simply wrong.”

Community Safety Glasgow works with partners such as the Simon Community's RSVP team, which provides an outreach service to homeless people on behalf of Glasgow City Council. It says survey responses will shape approaches to help those involved in begging.

A spokesman for Community Safety Glasgow said: "The results of the survey will help us build up a clear, up-to-date picture of the nature and extent of begging in the city centre, the type of people involved and the problems they have.

"It will also tell us how people feel about begging and offer them an opportunity to contribute their ideas on how it might be addressed."

 

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