Anti-Begging Campaign Demonises Most Vulnerable

PANews BT_P-b5a9b383-6383-42b7-a01f-a773936e5b92_I1An anti-begging campaign launched on the 20th June under the moniker of ‘Begging for Change’ has been met with outrage. The campaign – supported by several charities and state agencies – aims to discourage people from engaging in one of the most basic acts of compassion.
Billboards and posters emerged across Belfast urging people not to give to people begging on the street, but to ‘responsibly’ donate to charities instead. It states that giving to people on the street can feed addiction. Of course, services to provide support for those with addiction problems – such as the now defunct FASA on the Shankill Road – are being cut to the bone thanks to Stormont austerity. This campaign – perhaps unwittingly – feeds into the demonization of beggars and homeless people and into the Victorian narrative of the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor.

It is disgraceful that this campaign is being supported by the Housing Executive, the very body which is meant to be helping people get off the streets and into permanent housing. Decades of sell-off and underinvestment have created a housing crisis, with over 40,000 families on the housing waiting list.

Rather than attacking some of the most vulnerable people in our society, state agencies should be investing in social housing, as well as treatment and support services for those with mental health issues and those struggling with addiction. Unfortunately, this flies in the face of the neo-liberal austerity agenda of the Stormont Executive.

Previous Article

North, South, Across the Globe - Step Up the Fight4Equality! Solidarity against homophobia & transphobia!

Next Article

 Dealing With the Past – Only workers’ movement can deliver truth and justice

Related Posts
Read More

Stand up for journalism: End threats and intimidation

Journalists across multiple newspapers in Northern Ireland have received threats from both loyalist paramilitaries and ‘dissident’ republicans. The threats against journalists working for the Belfast Telegraph are believed to originate from the breakaway South-East Antrim UDA. Female journalists in particular have also been targets of misogynistic threats.

Read More

Harland & Wolff: The hidden history of workers’ struggle

The history of Northern Ireland is often present as simply being of two traditions - nationalism and unionism - in conflict with each other. Almost everything is painted as belonging to one or the other, including the shipyard. It is also true that most things do have a history tainted by sectarianism. But there is also another history, one which we see in the shipyards, across Belfast and across Northern Ireland - that is the labour tradition, where working-class people have stood together to fight in their common interests.