Yesterday The Guardian published an article about the recent anti-begging posters put up around Nottingham by the city council, and their subsequent ban by the advertising standards authority after complaints that they were offensive. Nottingham City Councils actions are part of an increasing culture of demonising (and dehumanising) vulnerable homeless people in the UK. Transitions Director Abi Horsfield, who regularly works with people who are or have been homeless, gives her response to the article here;
“Seeing these posters produced both sickens and angers me.
The vilification of homeless people, in a climate where austerity, sanctioning and government policies, are exacerbating poverty and paving the way to an increase in destitution is wrong.
Homeless numbers are growing and will keep growing unless there is significant change to the way we support and help the most vulnerable in our communities.
We also need to look at the increase in hate crime against people on the streets, to see that posters like this ligitimise the venom, hatred and prejudice.
The issue of begging is complex and many charities and councils talk about not giving to people as it discourages moving on and ask that people donate to organisations that support and help instead, I feel that this has to be down to an individual to make that call.
But what we can all do is give a smile, take some time to acknowledge another human being who has fallen on hard times and to listen and not judge. We can all call on our MPs to take action against policies that enable people to fall through the cracks and end up with no choice but to beg.”
Abi is currently directing Collective Encounter’s latest show “Cracked”, which explores the recent rise in violence against the homeless. It will be touring in December. Keep checking our website for updates.