You could be 'killing with kindness' if you give to people begging on our streets.

We're warning well–meaning people who give spare change to people who beg that the cash is often used to buy drugs and could end up killing the person you are trying to help.

Contrary to popular perception, most people who beg are not homeless, and are using the money they receive to fuel a drug or alcohol addiction.

The link between begging and drugs

Overwhelming evidence shows that people who beg on the streets of Cambridgeshire do so in order to buy hard drugs, particularly crack cocaine and heroin, and super–strength alcoholic beers and ciders. These highly addictive drugs cause an extreme deterioration in people's health and even death.

We've been working closely with Cambridge City Council, Peterborough City Council and a number of homelessness organisations in order to encourage those who beg to get help, but also to encourage members of the public to support these organisations rather than hand over spare change to those on the streets.

In the experience of frontline workers, people are more likely to accept help and to address their addictions when they are not receiving money from begging.

Homelessness charities are in no doubt that money contributed by caring members of the public to people begging is, invariably, spent on heroin and crack cocaine, causing ill health, misery and sometimes, death.

We're asking that you give us the opportunity of transforming lives by putting money into services instead of into the pockets of the dealers.

Homelessness and begging

Some people who beg are homeless but most people found begging have somewhere to stay. Only 10 percent of people arrested for begging in Cambridge last year were found to be homeless, the picture in Peterborough is much the same.

Cambridge City Council works with, and helps to fund, a range of agencies dedicated to getting people off the street. There are almost 300 high–quality supported accommodation beds for homeless adults and young people in the city and the commitment doesn't stop at accommodation. Funding also goes into supporting training for work, providing benefit advice, counselling and providing dedicated medical and social services for people who need help with addictions.

Peterborough City Council is committed to helping those in need. It works closely with charities, faith groups and enforcement agencies to support rough sleepers into accommodation. The council also has close partnership links with agencies that support those with alcohol, drug and mental health issues.

Every rough sleeper is given an offer to leave the streets, this could comprise help with reconnecting to where they have established links or assistance in accessing supported or private rented accommodation or negotiation to stay with friends or family. Every rough sleeper is encouraged into services.

All the evidence shows that this patient, supportive, professional assistance is the best way to help – giving to people on the street only helps to keep them there.

You can still help

Rather than giving money to people on the streets, our Crimes and support campaign urges people to give their spare change to homelessness charities. Here beggars can get the support they need, whether that is a hot meal and clean clothes, or help to come away from drug or alcohol addictions.

Support organisations in Cambridge


    CRI is a social care and health charity working with individuals, families and communities across the UK that are affected by drugs, alcohol, crime, homelessness, domestic abuse and anti-social behaviour.


    Winter Comfort supports men and women who are homeless or vulnerably housed by offering them vital welfare services and opportunities for learning and development.


    Cambridge Cyrenians combine individual support with provision of accommodation and strive for long-term solutions rather than quick fixes.


    Emmaus supports formerly homeless people by giving them a home, meaningful work in a social enterprise and an opportunity to get back on their feet.

Support organisations in Peterborough

  • www. – a social care and health charity working with individuals, families and communities across the UK that are affected by drugs, alcohol, crime, homelessness, domestic abuse and anti–social behaviour.
  • – a local charity established in 1981 dedicated to supporting adults, young people and families affected by their own or another's alcohol and/or substance misuse. Services include 1:1 support, group work, brief advice and practical support in related areas such as homelessness, debt management and employment.
  • – the Peterborough Food Bank distributes food for those in crisis in the city as well as signposting residents to agencies to help them combat longer term problems and provide support.
  • – the Peterborough Salvation Army provide a range of community services and support to those who are vulnerable and in need.
  • – Peterborough Soup Kitchen is a local charity for homeless and disadvantaged people in the city. Their aim is to ensure that those who use the service get some hot soup, food and drinks, throughout the year, whatever the weather conditions.
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