The campaign, launched in July, complements outreach work by organisations including DCM and the Soup Kitchen to get people off the street and help turn their lives around.
Stephanie McIntyre, Director of DCM, says the City Council is taking a positive and innovative approach to this issue, rather than banning begging.
"We fully support the Alternative Giving campaign as a way of drawing attention to issues of poverty and homelessness in our city, and any money raised - whether it’s a lot or a little - will go directly to services that can help.
”Our workers address the underlying reasons people have resorted to street begging, and support them to access income and health services or find an appropriate place to live.”
Most people who beg on the street are supplementing a limited income although others use it as a means to support drug or alcohol addictions. “It’s much better to give to the organisations that help to prevent begging and make lasting changes in people’s lives,” says Stephanie.
The Council’s Community Services Manager, Jenny Rains, says the campaign is not a fundraising drive to pull in thousands of dollars each week.
“The aim is to make the public stop and think, to ask themselves whether giving money to people begging on the street is the best way to help.”
Wellington’s Soup Kitchen - often the first port of call for those who have fallen on hard times - provides more than just food for people in need.
Nance Thomson, Soup Kitchen Manager, says they have received many calls from Wellingtonians concerned about the number of people begging.
“It’s clear the public want to help people on the street. Donating to the Alternative Giving campaign is an effective way of initiating lasting change. Collaboration between councils, health services and support organisations is proven to be the best way to reduce the impact of begging on our community."
The other participating groups in the Alternative Giving campaign are Catacombs drop-in centre, Wellington Night Shelter, Wellington City Mission and Wellington Homeless Women’s Trust.
For now, people can donate by downloading an app for their smartphones. Around $1000 has been donated so far. Later this year the Council intends to install drop boxes at a few locations in the CBD where people can make a donation.