A campaign, which focuses on how people can support long-term change for individuals who may have previously been associated with rough sleeping in Aldershot, is to be relaunched in time for Christmas.
Rushmoor Borough Council and Safer North Hampshire* launched a “Positive Change” campaign a year ago to help tackle antisocial behaviour and begging by encouraging people to donate to local charities rather than giving cash to people begging.
The campaign asked people who lived, worked in or visited Aldershot to make a difference by donating any loose change to local charities to give individuals the best opportunities to make positive and lasting change in their lives.
In the run-up to Christmas, people are again being asked to donate any loose change to three local charities:
• Step- by-Step in Aldershot, which works to empower young people and prevent homelessness. The charity provides accommodation (16-25 years), personal development opportunities and specialist support (11-25 years). To donate: https://www.stepbystep.org.uk/
• The Vine Centre in Aldershot, which provides a range of services to disadvantaged members of the community (aged 18 years-old+). These services address the immediate physical & mental health needs of clients, as well as their longer-term needs. To donate: http://www.thevinecentre.org.uk/
• The Society of St James, which manages North Lane Lodge for rough sleepers with complex needs. Clients often have complex issues surrounding homelessness, including addiction and mental health problems. To donate: https://ssj.org.uk/
There will also be an extra reassuring presence in the town centres thanks to a number of Rushmoor Borough Council Community Patrol Officers joining Hampshire Constabulary to enforce the existing Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs).
The council officers, who recently passed a Community Safety Accreditation Scheme course, will be carrying out joint patrols, with the police, to control antisocial behaviour in and around Aldershot and Farnborough town centres.
Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) were introduced last year in a bid to strengthen existing powers to deal with antisocial behaviour.
Councillor Ken Muschamp, Rushmoor Borough Council Deputy Leader, said: “It is important to make a distinction between people who are genuinely homeless, and requiring support from the council and local charities to improve their lives, and people choosing to commit antisocial behaviour. We are striving, through our Positive Change campaign and through training more officers to help the police enforce the PSPOs in Aldershot and Farnborough town centres, to reduce the number of incidents of antisocial behaviour.
“We are urging people who want to help to give money to the three excellent charities working with the homeless in Rushmoor – The Society of St James, Step-by-Step and The Vine Centre, and not to individuals.”
Rushmoor Borough Council opened North Lane Lodge, a nine-bed hostel specifically for rough sleepers with complex needs, in February 2017, which has helped to reduce the number of street homeless. Also vital in helping to decrease the number of rough sleepers locally has been the Home Group housing association’s Street Outreach team, who ensure people have access to the specialist support needed to move their lives away from the streets.
If anyone sees someone sleeping rough, they can report it on the StreetLink website www.streetlink.org.uk, which will come directly through to the council’s housing team.