Supporting Real Change

  • We are delighted that so many of our members have joined us in our efforts to support those in need in the local community, with significant donations of time and money going to support those who are homeless. However we are also acutely aware of a rise in begging in the area and the results of our last member survey tell us that begging concerns many of you too. Together with Westminster City Council we are supporting a campaign led by three central London homelessness charities,  – #RealChange – to support vulnerable homeless people while reducing the impact of begging.

    Evidence shows that giving directly to someone begging does not support them away from the street, but is more likely to fuel a drug or alcohol addiction, which can cause serious health issues and even premature death. Giving money to someone can also prevent them from engaging with services which can help, and prolongs their life on the street.   Westminster’s outreach teams have found that many beggars on London’s streets, particularly children and women, are victims of human trafficking and are forced to beg by organised begging groups. Money given to these beggars is channeled back to finance further criminal activity.

    You can help by reminding staff and guests that:

    • there are many services available for those sleeping on the street and that giving money directly to beggars will not support them away from their situation.
    • the best way to help is to contact StreetLink online or on 0300 500 0914 to alert local outreach teams and if they wish donate to registered charities by texting REALCHANGE to 70500.

    We provide support and advice directly to our members and our Ambassadors and management team meet regularly with outreach, police and council representatives.  If you have a specific issue please contact our One Stop Shop service on 020 3056 5910. You can also find out about  ways to support the homeless and other in the local area on our Smarter Giving page.

    An information leaflet and a set of posters have been produced with useful advice for businesses in Westminster. Westminster City Council have also developed an information leaflet with the London Mosque to highlight the issue of begging to Middle Eastern visitors, particularly during Ramadan. This is available to download in English and Arabic. We encourage you to share these within your workplace, with guests and clients.