Progress is being made on addressing Napier's homeless issue, with good results being reported from a campaign helping agencies who focus on rough sleepers, and those with addiction issues.
Recently Napier's growing population of beggars and homeless people has been in the spotlight, with the group blamed for increased reports of disorderly behaviour in the CBD.
The Helping Hands campaign has been running for five months, and encourages people to donate to legitimate agencies, rather than giving to those begging on the streets.
The Whatever It Takes Trust (WIT) - which runs a homeless outreach service - has reported that they now have locals regularly donating to their service as a result.
WIT is one group involved in the Napier City Council-led campaign, which is working to assist vulnerable and high risk community members in a connected and cohesive manner, alongside police, Ministry of Social Development, Salvation Army and Napier City Business Inc.
There has also been positive feedback for a new street patrol programme, which will address antisocial behavior and low level criminal activity, with police support.
In the three weeks since patrols began there have been fewer complaints about anti-social behaviour, and some of the people begging have asked the outreach service based at Clive Square for assistance, council manager community strategies Natasha Carswell said.
They had been focused on longer-term solutions to homelessness - including educating the community, and gathering support for the outreach service through the campaign.
"But at the same time it's good to see our street management approach is also changing things for the better," she said.
These foot patrols can, since recently, also issue trespass orders if they come across people sleeping in or leaving unattended gear in specific areas, including the city's parks and reserves.
These can also be issued for private retail sites, with more than 30 businesses from the CBD and Marewa asking their premises be covered in the street management programme.
If notices are ignored, it becomes a police matter.
The officers are also regularly referring people to the Clive Square outreach service, which is funded by NCC, for help to access housing or other services. In the past month about nine rough sleepers have been housed through the service.
There are fortnightly reviews checking how the street management programme is working so any modifications can be made as quickly as possible.
The Helping Hands campaign will continue and will intensify during the summer season.
Advice for members of the public:
- Give to legitimate agencies only - "give for good" not for harm
- Contact the police if feeling threatened or concerned for safety of yourself or others
- Contact WIT on email@example.com and 06 835 2154
- Contact the Salvation Army on firstname.lastname@example.org and
06 844 4941
- Contact Napier police on 06 831 0700