Walk across our city from any direction and the chances are you will encounter someone who is begging or apparently living on the streets.
Leeds is far from unique in this but for the last year or so various charities, statutory bodies and support organisations have been coming together to work out how Leeds should tackle this.
Big Change is the result, a project to support people to get off the streets in Leeds.
Read the full story on Big Change
Not all of those we see on the streets are homeless, indeed it is accepted that of around 260 “active street users” less than 30 are rough sleepers.
Those “active street users” present a number of issues for the city, petty crime, open drug taking, anti-social behaviour being among the issues. Moving people on will just shift the problem elsewhere, giving small change to beggars does little to help longterm, even the most well-intentioned help - like providing hot food for the homeless - will not deter people from being on the streets.
That’s where the approach of Big Change should succeed.
It means those supporting street users are working together to address the underlying problems that have led people to end up there. It also means enforcement backing this up. As individuals it gives those who live and work in Leeds a central point to give money to, which we know will go directly to helping in a positive way, and gives companies a focal point to give their support.
Big Change won’t happen overnight, but this is a step in the right direction. Working together we can make a difference to the number of people on Leeds’s streets and help change their lives.