THE West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and local councils have launched a new winter campaign to help rough sleepers and those at risk of becoming homeless.
‘There’s a Better Way’ is the latest campaign for the alternative giving scheme, Change into Action, which is now in its fifth year.
It asks residents to look out for people in their local areas who might be sleeping rough or at risk of homelessness so they can be connected to local support services.
To launch this winter’s campaign, Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, and Councillor Sharon Thompson, chair of the WMCA Homelessness Taskforce Members Advisory Group, have been handing out leaflets to stallholders, businesses and shoppers.
Rather than directly giving money to those begging on the street or at the road side, the campaign highlights alternative ways of helping so that people can get off the streets for good.
This includes a donation to Change Into Action and advice on how to seek support from street outreach teams as well as ways of spreading the word through social media.
The money raised by Change into Action is used to make a change in the lives of people who need it.
This includes providing accommodation, access to healthcare, clothing and training that could help secure a job.
The initiative is led by the WMCA Homelessness Taskforce and was originally set up by Mr Street in partnership with Birmingham City Council.
Over time it has grown to include the local councils in Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, and Walsall, with Wolverhampton having a similar scheme called Alternative Giving CIO.
Thanks to the generosity of residents and local business more than £220,000 has been raised across the region through Change into Action and Alternative Giving CIO, helping to change many people’s lives for the better.
“By working together, the region has done a good job of helping society’s most vulnerable and reducing the number of rough sleepers on our streets,” said Mr Street.
“However, there is still so much more to be done, and we know winter is traditionally a very challenging time for those sleeping rough.
“That is why we have launched the ‘There’s a Better Way campaign’, spearheaded by our Change into Action scheme.”