SPF Principles: Begging and beggars

i. The SPF supports the call to members of the public to refrain from giving money or any other hand-out to children on the street. Such hand-outs contravene child labour legislation and frustrate the work of organisations working with children.

ii. The SPF calls for compassionate engagement with adult street-based people.

iii. Begging is not a crime and should not be made a crime.

iv. Begging is not a problem. Begging is a request for help that results from social problems.

v. People should be free to choose: free to ask for help, and free to choose how they respond to a request for help.

vi. Shelters actively discourage begging. They try to offer work at the shelter as an alternative way to earn a shelter fee. A voucher system is available in some areas for the public to purchase shelter space on behalf of another person.

vii. Aggression and violence contradict begging. Violence is a crime and all forms of aggression should be seen as an infringement of personal dignity and demeaning to our common humanity.

• When someone who is ‘begging’ does not accept ‘no’ for an answer and harasses the person they have approached, this is aggression.

• When someone shuns or shames a person who is begging, this is aggression.

• When the state criminalises ordinary human behaviours in an attempt to make begging difficult or impossible without providing alternatives, this is aggression. An example of this is the use of by-laws to arrest street-based people who urinate in public, despite public toilets being effectively unavailable to street-based people.

 

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