AN initiative aimed at helping rough sleepers and those who are begging across the district has started.

The Bradford Council-funded Bradford Cares scheme has been commissioned by the Safe and Stronger Communities partnership and is being led by a network of charities.

Its purpose is to raise awareness and support for local organisations which help those who have become homeless by making it convenient and straightforward to give money, items and time to charities through a new website,

One of the organisers, Martyn Johnston, said helping those organisations was a more effective way for the public to assist rather than giving money to rough sleepers.

“We know a lot of people want to give beggars and rough sleepers money and we don’t want to tell them not to but what we want to do is let them know there are other ways of helping; to find help and give help which can often be more effective,” he said.

“We even encourage people to stop and chat with them. Sometimes a few words with people means a lot.

“While we have been out and about a lot of people have stopped and asked us for information.

“Several have said they want to help.”

The website acts as an online hub where people can find information about all the services available in the district, adverts for volunteers and items needed, and locally-relevant articles which inform people of issues surrounding homelessness in the area.

The project has more than 30 organisations involved.

A campaign held throughout Bradford district in the past two weeks to publicise the venture included temporary information placards at traffic light junctions to get people thinking about the issues and how they can help.

A new information booklet has also been produced for those who need to find help. It will be distributed through local organisations and support services.

And an information stall promoting the campaign and helping to put people in contact with the organisations which are offering help is continuing to travel around the district this month.

It will be outside the Airedale Shopping Centre in Keighley on Thursday (Dec 7), from 11am to 3pm.