A BACKLASH to the anti-begging campaign in Exeter is quickly gathering pace on social media, demanding the city council withdraws its support for the venture.
The 'Exeter Against Begging' campaign has been labelled as "embarrassing and thoughtless" and containing "mixed messages". A Facebook page called 'Exeter Against Exeter Against Begging Campaign' has attracted more likes than the original campaign page itself. The city council though insists it is only trying to offer homeless the help they need.
A man who claims he was homeless for several months on the streets of Exeter responded to the council in a lengthy letter in which he objected to the title of the new 'Exeter against begging' page and said that what was provided was only a short-term alternative.
Calls have also been made for Exeter Community Safety Partnership to provide evidence for the statement that "the overwhelming majority of people begging on the streets of Exeter spend their begging money on crack cocaine and heroin".
Various ways have been mentioned to protest against the campaign including giving extra money to beggars.
Matt Bell, chief executive, of Exeter Community Initiatives, said: "This scheme is a great idea and Exeter needs to support it. Many of us feel we want to help people who are obviously going through difficult times.
"By using the Alternative Giving Scheme the public can make a difference in a way that helps people with their problems by vital funds going to frontline homeless charities like St Petroc's and Shilhay Community who support thousands of people put their lives back together."
Sgt Leisk also said evidence has shown that beggars can earn up to £80 a day and a recent audit proved that over 70 per cent of people begging were not homeless.
To find out more about the Alternative Giving Scheme go to www.eci.org.uk/EAGSExeters-Alternative-Giving-Scheme