Homeless/Begging Beat-Up

I’ve not written anything for a while, mainly because of my move to Christchurch changing my focus on various things; particularly getting back into my old passion – photography, check my Instagram.

Anyway, over recent weeks I’ve noticed more beat-ups against homeless and people begging on the streets; sure, there’s been beat-ups before, but there’s a new wave of this happening throughout the country and, quite frankly I’ve had enough of it.

As some of you will know I have always been supportive of people who don’t have what others have, those who struggle to find housing and those who struggle to make ends meet. And, before you say “but it’s their choosing” – stop!

Who chooses to be homeless? Sure, there may be a handful of people who prefer not to have a fixed abode, but they are few and far between.

And, to those who say beggars are only doing it to finance their drugs and alcohol – I call bullshit on this; yes, there are some that do that, but again they are few and far between.

Since being in Christchurch, just like when I was in Auckland, I have gotten to know some of the local street people and, what a great bunch they are; actually, I’ve reconnected with a couple of bods I knew from Auckland.

Now, back to the beat-ups, Auckland retailers are tired of them on the street, sure some can be a right royal pain in the butt, but why aren’t retailers just going up to them and asking them nicely to move on rather than being heavy handed and calling security patrols or police? A little polite dialogue can work wonders and earns respect for all concerned.

Now I’ve also read recently about community space design that seem to be done in a way to deter people from loitering, street furniture made in such a way that people can’t lay down; spikes on edges of buildings, sprinklers in doorways; aren’t we a great lot that we would sooner do things to deter than to face people and talk about any issues.

In Christchurch recently while talking with a couple of the street people, we were approached by the boys in blue and asked to move on; actually, more precisely they were asked to move on. They were sitting on seats installed for public use; so in my mind had every right to be there.

These cops told the guys to move or they would be moved on for trespassing. Me being me, I couldn’t bite my tongue and asked if this applied to me as well; no they said, only the street people, well, that made my blood boil. That, as I pointed out to the constabulary was profiling and discrimination, I was asked to shut up, and to mind my own business. Um, it is/was my business.

Eventually the cops relented and moved on. We won.

Just the other week, again I was talking with a chap on the street I have gotten to know, when someone from a security firm came along and told him he had to sit at least one metre from any shop frontage. When I asked if this was council policy or a council bylaw, I was immediately asked for my name, address, and date of birth, yea right, I ain’t giving this to anyone other than the police. This person tried to tell me she had every right to ask and that I was in breach of some law for not providing it. Um, sorry, you’re wrong I said. She then demanded to see some form of proof of identity, I told her no way, that she had no legal right to request that.

She got all huffy and was about to call the police for assistance, I even offered to make the call myself, lucky for her someone else from the company came along and defused the situation.

And, now, just over this last weekend I read a thread on Facebook, where someone was asking what help she could offer to a newly found young woman sleeping rough. While most people offered sound advice, one person chimed in saying that asking for help for a woman was sexist, that homeless men are more at risk on the street than a single woman. Well, again I had to call bullshit on this.

I have seen and spoken with women sleeping rough who have been exploited, used as sexual pawns.

We all need to understand our homeless, we need to get to know them and offer them any help we can. This help could be as simple as getting to know them, offering them help when they need it, steering them to the right agencies. Remember most people are only a few pay cheques away from being in the same boat.

What will you do to help those living rough?

Begging Ban

I was shocked to see on Stuff.co.nz that a building in Christchurch has now put up No Begging signage in a “effort” to move beggars on. The reasoning appears to be that there are a number of “professional” beggars, people who move into the area to solicit money when they don’t really need to be doing it.

What’s happening in our society when we label people without knowing the full story, some of the comments I have read online in regard to this particular article has shocked me; and then when I shared it on Facebook one person suggested that all beggars be exterminated, that they were rejects that society didn’t need. Someone also commented that beggars, homeless should be put into “secure” housing, when asked what was meant by this, the response was – jail, was this best option. Let’s hope these views aren’t shared by others.

OK, yes there are some people begging that can be a tad annoying, but it’s important that not all are tarred with the same brush; every one of them has a story, a reason for being on the street doing what they are doing. We should instead of banishing homeless and beggars, that we should be learning what has put them in the situation they are in and looking for ways to offer them the help they need to get on their feet.

There’s many organisations working to help homeless people throughout the country, and now we the Government ready with $100M to fight homelessness. All we need now is for the rest of us to understand why people are on the streets and offer support where we can.

Do beggars annoy you, do you want to see them banned from the streets?

Looks Like a Charity Beat Up

A New Plymouth (New Zealand) charity – Roderique Hope Trust which provides emergency housing has recently leased a property to house people in urgent need of housing. But, this doesn’t seem to have gone down too well with others who have properties on the street.

One person, who’s daughter has a property on the street, has apparently threatened to sue if the value of her property decreases because of the Trust providing accommodation.

How can this be ok to even think about? As one person who commented on the item on Stuff.co.nz has said, “Do the residents of the street vet ALL people buying or renting in “their” street?  I bet they don’t!   How do they know that “that sort of person” became homeless due to accident, illness, redundancy or other reasons, and are perfectly respectable people?   This looks like a severe case of Nimby-ism”. This commenter is right in his/her thinking.

All too often we see community organisations taking action to help others in the community only to face a backlash, this time it seems as though the threat of legal action is only one part of the potential backlash, but it also seems that this could be a media beat up.

It would appear that Roderique Hope Trust have tried to keep the local residents informed, the fact that a meeting was planned for a long weekend is perhaps not a good thing, although it wasn’t organised by the Trust; but whoever organised it should have taken into account that some “players” wouldn’t be available.

We need organisations like Roderique Hope Trust helping in the emergency housing area, but we run the risk of others taking a step back if threats such as the one in this article are made to other providers.

Let’s hope there’s a good outcome to this and that the Trust moves ahead with their plan, it would seem that the owner of the property has no issues, only a handful of local residents who seem to feel they have been left out of discussions.

Let’s hope common sense prevails.

 

 

 

 

 

What Makes a Charity a Charity

Talk to anyone in the street about charities and they’ll say “there’s too many” “I’m always being asked for money for something” – and that’s just from people who comment about the “visible” charities. Wait until you start talking about the Big Business Charities – the first to come to mind are Churches.

They’re registered as charities, have, in the main massive resources, they have charitable status which means they don’t pay taxes like you or I.

Then there’s the likes of Sanitarium which is exempt from paying tax on its business earnings, simply because it’s owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, which is a registered charity.

When Big Business, yes, Sanitarium is a business, is exempt from paying taxes on earnings, it can make people question whether this is making a mockery of the whole charity sector.

I could write screeds about this, but having stumbled across Kate Russell’s (no relation) piece on LinkedIn, I see no point in repeating what she has to say.

I agree with what Kate has to say in “Is it time to reform the Charities Register?” and, it would seem those who have comment on her piece are of the same mind.

Have a read of what Kate has to say – do you agree that it is time to reform the Charities Register?

“In recent years, there have been various moves by Government to ensure that charities are more accountable and transparent in their financial management. The new accounting standards that come in shortly will ensure that charities are clear and open about investment returns and outcomes reporting.

“We as a sector should welcome these moves as adding credibility to what we do, but isn’t it time the Government attacked the more complex issues of what constitutes a ‘charity’ here in Godzone?

Read Kate’s full piece here

What do you think – is it time for reform?

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think, I’ll also gladly pass your comments onto Kate.