A partnership of Sheffield organisations publicly launched a Christmas initiative to help the city’s most vulnerable today.
Representatives from ‘Help Us Help’, a collaboration between more than 20 Sheffield services, spoke this afternoon about struggles faced by these members of society and what the public can do to help.
Inspector John Mallows, City Centre Neighbourhoods inspector for South Yorkshire Police, was keen to stress that Help us Help is a year-round initiative, but the seasonal message of giving around Christmas provides an ideal platform to increase awareness.
He said: “People are giving gifts, it’s particularly cold and we’ve got an increased footfall in the city centre due to the Christmas markets.
It’s the real time to maximise the message.”
Douglas Johnson, Green Party Councillor for the city ward, explained that people are often tempted to equate homelessness with begging, but this is not always the case.
According to Mr Johnson, not all beggars are homeless – but they are still vulnerable, and people are taking advantage of them.
He said: “In some cases people begging are being ‘pimped out’ and are being made to give their cash to handlers.”
According to an article published by The Guardian earlier this year, the national estimated life expectancy of homeless people is 43 – nearly half the average.
However, Jim Steinke, cabinet member for Neighbourhoods and Community Care, expressed that giving money to homeless people was not the way to improve this problem – instead, people should support the charities dedicated to helping them.
He said: “Homelessness is not unavoidable.
“It’s about working together and working harmoniously.”