Due a rise in the number of street sleepers and beggars in Harrogate, a new contactless payment system is being considered.
A study this year found that the number of visible beggars and street sleepers had been increasing in Harrogate. Many, though not all, of the beggars on the Harrogate streets are there by choice, according to recent information gathered in our area which suggests that individuals are using begging as a way to supplement their income. Although in some areas of the country the policy is for the police to move beggars on, this is not a policy adopted by Harrogate police.
It is distressing to think of people being homeless and forced to sleep on the streets, particularly during the winter. It is tempting to give to these people in the hope that this will help them to find a way off the streets. However, the situation is generally more complex and more support and assistance is needed to get people off the streets with the money we give to these people tending not to help them to turn their lives around.
Naturally people wish to help those who find themselves homeless and the proposed contactless payment system will allow people to give in the knowledge that the money will be used in a way that will genuinely benefit those who really need it. It is also felt that this should act to discourage beggars who are not in genuine need as the financial benefit of doing so will be reduced if people use the contactless system instead.
The plan is a joint initiative between the council, North Yorkshire Police and Harrogate Homeless Project. The system will encourage people to donate directly to a central fund that will be used to effect real change for those who are, or have been, street sleepers.
If the initiative is agreed at an upcoming meeting, a contactless terminal will be installed in Harrogate town centre which will enable people to quickly donate a suggested £3 in a quick transaction. There would also be an online “giving page” set up. The money would be administered by Two Ridings Community Foundation which already works closely with the council. Organisations supporting the homeless, including Harrogate Homeless Project, would then be able to apply for grants of up to £500 from this fund to assist individuals in getting off the streets and remaining off.