Glasgow is to set up an Alternative Giving scheme to help transform the lives of people of who participate in begging.
An online donation facility, contactless giving points and a website will be created so people can contribute to a fund which will pay for practical items such as clothes to attend a job interview, tickets for public transport to access training or essential tools or safety equipment to start work.
Third Sector partners including Simon Community Scotland, Glasgow Homelessness Network and The Big Issue are teaming up with the city council, the Chamber of Commerce and Police Scotland, to create a scheme similar to one in Manchester.
Assistance provided will be practical and tailored to a person’s individual needs. Partners, such as the Simon Community, who work with vulnerable people , will apply to the fund on their behalf. Decisions on support will be made quickly to ensure people are able to seize opportunities to improve their lives.
Businesses and other city organisations will be invited to become ambassadors for the scheme, providing “in kind”, financial support or work experience for suitable candidates. Firms tendering for council contracts may also be encouraged to back the scheme via “community benefit” clauses.
The city’s Begging Strategy Group visited Manchester and Liverpool to learn how difference alternative giving schemes operate successfully and what type would be most suitable for Glasgow. Members also liaised with Cardiff, Cambridge and the Association of City and Town Centre Managers.
Councillor Allan Casey, Chair of the Begging Strategy Group, said: “Glasgow is a generous city and people care deeply about those who are vulnerable and marginalised. They regularly give their spare change to people who are begging. This may help in the short term, but may not bring about positive, long term change in that person’s life.
“The new alternative giving scheme will offer the public a new way to help, which aims to deliver long term change for individuals – giving them personalised practical support to improve their lives by pursuing positive paths.
“Not everyone who begs is homeless, but this scheme will operate in tandem with existing services in the city such as the new roving Digital Inclusion Officer, the Housing First Scheme and homelessness services. We aim to remove barriers preventing people from rising out of poverty and no longer having to participate in begging.”
People with personal experience of begging in Glasgow will be involved in the scheme’s creation and also in deciding which applications are approved.
Street Change Glasgow is another initiative by the city’s Begging Strategy Group which aims to ensure people do not have to beg. A Digital Inclusion Officer was recently employed to work alongside the Simon Community’s Street Team. She goes out to talk to people who are begging and uses a tablet computer to ensure they are registered to receive all the benefits they are entitled to, as well as preparing them for the transition to Universal Credit.