A homelessness charity is gearing up to help people street begging this winter through an “invaluable” initiative.
Staff from the Cyrenians Assertive Outreach Street Begging Project, which operates in the city centre, will be working to help those in need over the colder months.
The project is a commissioned service from the council up until March 31 2020 and has been operating in the city centre since 2017, offering advice and advocacy to anyone begging for money.
Lynda Reid-Fowler, community services lead for the charity, said: “‘We go out at various points throughout the week to chat to people who are begging, and have found that being a visible presence on Union Street offers a reliable point of contact.
“Some people find it difficult to go to appointments or services and so going out and meeting people helps with this.
“The street begging team will still be stepping out in the run up to Christmas as we have found in previous years that there is a seasonal spike in the number of people asking for money on the streets as more shoppers start to appear.
“Many people who street beg may not necessarily be facing an accommodation crisis but are still extremely vulnerable, facing many difficult situations, and can find themselves spending their days on the streets.”
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The Cyrenians was set up in 1968, originally just providing food and shelter.
The charity now focuses its efforts on the prevention, alleviation, rehabilitation and resettlement of those on the streets.
Chief executive Mike Burns said: “The work done by the Assertive Outreach Street Begging Project is invaluable as it allows us to reach the most vulnerable people in the city. Once someone has interacted with our street begging worker, they can then be referred to other services like Housing First, Direct Access and Street Alternatives.
“Direct Access, which plans to operate a drop-in service 365 days a year, allows anyone facing homelessness and hardship the chance to meet with a trained support worker and get access to food parcels, fresh clothing and toiletries – people will also often be referred to Street Alternatives, which provides hot meals and access to showers and laundry facilities four times a week.”
Cyrenians will be accepting donations of food, clothing and toiletries in the run up to Christmas, as well as financial donations to support their work over the festive period and in 2020.
Direct Access and Street Alternatives will run every day for two weeks from December 21, providing hot meals as well as access to showers, laundry facilities, clothing and toiletries.
Anyone wishing to donate can do so by visiting aberdeen-cyrenians.org/donate
Items can also be handed into the Cyrenians office on 62 Summer Street from 9am to 5pm from Monday to Thursday and 9am to 4pm on Friday.