Campaign to Demonize Homelessness Provokes Massive Backlash

Michaela Whitton
March 25, 2016

(ANTIMEDIA) Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom — A local city council in the U.K. is facing severe backlash as a result of a vile campaign demonizing homelessness. Nottinghamshire City Council’s #givesmart campaign was launched in March, with the aim of urging the public not to give money to people begging on the streets. Concerned that money given to those begging is used to feed addictions, the council claims to have launched the campaign to encourage the public to give their cash to homeless charities, instead.

Nottingham’s council implemented the campaign by displaying a number of large posters throughout the city that contain bigoted and hateful slogans. Claiming “beggars are not what they seem,” they portray a young man in a hat and photographs of cans of ‘strong’ lager. They contain slogans stating, “Begging: Watch Your Money Go To A Fraud,” or “Begging: Watch your money go up in smoke,” and even “Begging funds the misuse of drugs.”

Clearly not everyone who begs is homeless, and not all homeless people beg, but it is without doubt that those sitting for hours on Britain’s streets in freezing temperatures are some of society’s most vulnerable. However, it seems the leader of Nottingham City Council, Councillor Jon Collins, disagrees. When announcing the launch of #givesmart, he told the Nottingham Post: “These professional beggars can make up to £800 a day and have in the past waved notes in front of officers.”

After succeeding in labelling and stereotyping those forced to beg on the streets of the U.K. as addicts and alcoholics, the stigmatising ad campaign has provoked uproar with the public — most of whom are perfectly capable of choosing how they spend their money. Unsurprisingly, the sound of a slow hand clap for Nottingham City Council has rippled across Twitter, with users demanding answers and using the #givesmart hashtag to express their outrage.

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