As the weather turns colder, many people become more aware of the street community and want to do something to help.
Mansfield District Council is encouraging town centre visitors to donate to existing support organisations rather than hand cash to people who appear to be homeless or those who are begging.
The Mansfield Street Support campaign launched in 2018 in partnership with Nottinghamshire Police and Framework and aims to raise awareness of local charities and groups helping the street community, ensuring that offers of cash, food and volunteering time are directed best.
Councillor Anne Callaghan, Portfolio Holder for Housing at Mansfield District Council, said: “Like most other towns in the UK, Mansfield has a visible street community and naturally people want to help those most vulnerable.
“Our district has an established support network of charities, groups and organisations who work daily with people who are homeless, begging, and rough sleeping.
“Remember that rough sleeping and begging are not always linked, but local outreach and support networks help to untangle complex cases.
“You can help by supporting the existing support network to continue to deliver much-needed services.”
The reminder comes as Mansfield District Council has been awarded £21,179 of funding from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) from the Move On and Prevention funding for supporting rough sleepers into move on accommodation.
The Move on and Prevention funding from DLUHC will be used as part of the Winter Accommodation project to enable sustainment of a life away from the streets and prevent people rough sleeping for the first time. The additional funding will enable the council to partner with an experienced supported housing provider to deliver targeted support to rough sleepers.
The reminder of how you can help the rough sleeping community comes as the town centre gears up for a busy Christmas with more shoppers on the street and an increase in people visiting food and drink venues.
Inspector Kylie Davies, district commander for Mansfield, said: “Together with our partners we are working every day to make our town centre a better place to live, work and visit. As part of that work we do come into regular contact with member of the street community.
“If they are committing offences then we will of course respond appropriately, but we also understand that many people in this community are living with extremely complex needs – from addiction and homelessness to acute mental ill-health.
“The good news is that there is plenty of specialist support available locally to help them, and we will continue to work with our partners to ensure that help is accessed and that vulnerable people get the help and support they need to change the direction of their lives. I hope that others will support us in this endeavour and follow this advice.”
The Mansfield Street Support information campaign reinforces the work of a multi-agency task force in the district, tackling rough sleeping and homelessness and the issues surrounding it through a targeted programme of outreach work and, where needed, enforcement action.
On the front line are dedicated complex case workers and specialists in mental health and substance abuse, engaging directly with rough sleepers in Mansfield to encourage them to accept help. Not all of them initially want to accept help; it takes time to build trust in those offering that helping hand.
Supporting those most in need, day to day, are soup kitchens and special street community surgeries for those with medical needs.
If you are concerned about someone who appears to be rough sleeping, contact the outreach team on 0800 0665356 or text SOT to 80800, followed by your message.
For more information on how you can help, visit www.mansfieldstreetsupport.co.uk (opens in new window).