People urged to give money to charity not beggars

Fri, Feb 1, 2013, 00:00

They think all homeless people are on drugs. Yeah, [I am offended]. There’s nothing there to help anyone that’s homeless. It’s just do it yourself or find your own way. One homeless man in Dublin yesterday, who did not wish to be named

A new initiative to encourage people to stop donating to those begging on the street began yesterday.

The campaign is run by the Dublin City Business Improvement District (BID) and the addiction charity Tiglin.

BID, a representative organisation for more than 2,500 businesses across the city, claims active street begging creates a perception that the city is unsafe.

Research conducted by Dublin City Council last year showed feeling unsafe was one of the most significant factors negatively influencing people’s experience of the city centre. The Change for the Better campaign is a “diverted giving” scheme, whereby people are urged to stop giving money to individuals begging on the street and to instead donate to one of 40 charity boxes in shops and businesses around the city.

Addiction issues

These funds go to Tiglin, which supports people with addiction issues. BID and a number of the businesses supporting the campaign have offered to match the donations made by the public through the boxes.

Chief executive Richard Guiney said active begging is “a serious problem” in the city centre. “There has been a stark increase in the number of active begging incidents recorded in the BID area over the past year.

“We know from consumer surveys that there is a perception that Dublin is not a safe city, when actually the statistics say it is extremely safe. About 60 per cent of all tourists will visit Dublin and this perception is very damaging.

“Previous research has shown that one of the main reasons for begging is to fund drug and alcohol addiction. We have observed cases of professional begging in the city and other situations where money given by the public has been used to buy drugs.”

Tiglin operations director Phil Thompson said the campaign was an educational process for both beggars and members of the public who give money.

Heroin addict

Niall Murphy (45) from Terenure, Dublin, is a former heroin addict who begged on the streets to fund his addiction but has completed Tiglin’s rehabilitation programme.

“There was a rave scene in Dublin during the nineties and I fell into that,” he said. “I started using ecstasy and progressed on to heroin. I was about 35 when I was kicked out and ended up homeless.

“I wasn’t your typical beggar sitting on a bridge with a cup, but I’m ashamed to say I used to walk around tapping people to see if they would give me money.

“Deep down, people knew if I asked for money for a hostel that I really wanted it for drugs.”