Q. Should I give money to homeless people in the street?
A. Virtually all homeless organisations agree that you should never give money to people who are begging in the street. You will usually just be feeding an addiction problem or giving money to a professional beggar. Even if you find a genuine homeless person with no addictions, the money would be much more effective if you donated it to a homeless charity, this is described as “Diverted Giving”.
Q. Aren’t all homeless people just drug addicts who’ve bought it upon themselves?
A. No, absolutely not. It’s true that many street homeless have alcohol or drug problems but most have developed these issues as a result of their homelessness, not the other way around. The vast majority of people we meet had totally normal lives until some unfortunate event. The most common causes are relationship breakdown or loss of employment. Other issues include bereavement, domestic abuse and mental health problems.
Q. How many people are sleeping rough in Crawley?
A. The number of people sleeping rough fluctuates daily but approximately 30 to 35 on any one night as a guide. The 2018 official figure for Crawley was 28 (up 65% from 17 in 2017, up 87% from 15 in 2016).
Q. Why don’t they all just go to Crawley Open House?
A. Crawley Open House doesn’t have unlimited capacity, they only have 24 beds in their hostel. The people they take in often have complex addiction and mental health issues. It takes time to work through these before they can hopefully move them on to more permanent accommodation.
Q. Why don’t you distribute tents?
A. Whilst tents offer good protection from the weather, they also create risks. There are many stories of people being kicked through tents, being urinated on and even set on fire. You cannot see anyone approaching you in a tent, it’s like being blindfolded. You also can’t be seen in a tent and if you become seriously ill, people can pass by totally unaware. There is also evidence that suggests that by having a tent people are rough sleeping for longer because it reduces the urgency of a more long-term solution.
If you have a question that you would like answered, please send us a message and we’ll add it to this blog post if we think it’s a good question.