GLASGOW BEGGING STRATEGY

INTRODUCTION

Begging is a complex issue. Over recent years many cities in Scotland have experienced an increase in begging, and Glasgow has been no exception.  Begging has a significant life impact on vulnerable individuals as well as on wider society.  It is a multi-faceted issue and requires innovative, integrated partnership working to deliver sustainable solutions and interventions.

The Glasgow Begging Strategy was developed by a Short Life Working Group (SLWG) which was established by Glasgow City Council’s City Centre Strategy Board as a multi-partner forum. Chaired by Councillor Allan Casey, the SLWG comprised a wide range of public sector agencies, third sector groups, and private businesses and business networks. Importantly, people with lived (or personal) experience of street begging were involved in the development of the Glasgow Begging Strategy and will continue to be involved in its implementation going forward.

In September 2020, Glasgow City Council’s City Administration Committee approved the Glasgow Begging Strategy for a 6-week public consultation. The feedback from this exercise was used to inform the strategy document, and a revised version was formally approved by the City Administration Committee in March 2021.

PROJECT SCOPE

The Glasgow Begging Strategy identifies three strategic objectives:

  1. To support people on the street who are begging
  2. To reduce the need for people to have to beg
  3. To provide cash-alternatives for people who wish to support vulnerable individuals

The Glasgow Begging Strategy has been framed around four Key Projects in order to deliver these strategic objectives.

  1. Alternative Giving
  2. Financial and Digital Inclusion Services
  3. Environmental Strategy
  4. Public Perceptions

During the development of the Glasgow Begging Strategy, it was recommended that some actions should commence at the earliest opportunity and in advance of formal document approval. Accordingly, delivery of the Financial and Digital Inclusion Services, and the Alternative Giving Key Projects were expedited.

The Alternative Giving Key Project (Street Change Glasgow) was formally launched with the installation of the first contactless donation point in Glasgow Central Station in March 2020. Managed by Simon Community Scotland, the Street Change Glasgow initiative is a citywide response to begging and rough sleeping and is the first of its kind in Scotland.

Street Change Glasgow has been designed alongside people with lived experience and is open and transparent in how funding is disbursed to those seeking support. The initiative is a result of a significant collaboration between citizens, business, communities, and organisations, working together to help develop creative solutions, and deliver support and opportunities to those who need it most.

The Financial and Digital Inclusion Services Key Project commenced in 2018/19. Funded by both Glasgow City Council and Simon Community Scotland, it seeks to ensure that vulnerable users have access to their maximum benefit entitlement whilst also investigating ways to increase their access to key services, including:

  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Skills training and development
  • Other meaningful activity
  • Other tailored services appropriate to the individual

The Environmental Strategy Key Project is designed to increase street safety and encourage positive uses of public space, and will explore options which:

  • Encourage businesses to take a more proactive approach to securing vacant unit shopfronts
  • Reduce negative use of space through effective street design e.g. Secured by Design
  • De-clutter unnecessary street furniture

The Public Perceptions Key Project will seek to raise awareness and change behaviours so that members of the public:

  • Can understand and access existing support services
  • Can access information about what they can do to help and how to do it
  • Remain informed of key issues
  • Are aware of alternative options for public donations

This activity will also align with aspects of the Alternative Giving Key Project, through which the Street Change Glasgow initiative will endeavour to:

  • Change negative public perceptions about begging and provide positive narratives
  • Obtain buy-in and develop partnership working with businesses and city entrepreneurs

IMPLEMENTATION

An outline Action Plan has been included within the Glasgow Begging Strategy to provide an overview of the initial outputs. As a “living” document, the Glasgow Begging Strategy is intended to continue to develop and evolve according to the needs of the local community and its most vulnerable members.

A Project Management Group has been created to oversee and coordinate project delivery against the outline Action Plan. Reporting and governance mechanisms have also been established to ensure open and transparent communication on progress achieved throughout the agreed lifetime of the project, with quarterly reporting to a Steering Group and annual reporting to the Wellbeing, Empowerment, Community & City Engagement City Policy Committee (WECCE).

STAKEHOLDERS

The Glasgow Begging Strategy was developed by a working group which included such influential and important stakeholders as Big Issue, British Transport Police (BTP), City Centre Retail Association (CCRA), Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership (GCHSCP), Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow City Missions, Homeless Network Scotland, Marie Trust, National Health Service Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Police Scotland, Simon Community Scotland, and Turning Point Scotland.

It is hoped that the range and scope of project partners will continue to increase as activity progresses, through public sector agencies, third sector groups, and private business networks. Particular emphasis will be given to local community groups that want to become involved, especially given their knowledge and understanding of local issues and the impacts they can have.

HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED

The Street Change Glasgow Ambassador programme provides an opportunity for people and organisations to become involved and help support project delivery.

Further information about Street Change Glasgow can be found via the project website:

https://www.streetchangeglasgow.com/

CONTACTS

A copy of the current version of the Glasgow Begging Strategy can be accessed here:

https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=49525&p=0

Enquiries about the Glasgow Begging Strategy can be made to:

citycentrestrategy@glasgow.gov.uk