Christchurch’s homeless numbers have been reduced to fewer than 10 people genuinely sleeping rough within the central city.
However, there are still a small number of beggars displaying anti-social behaviour which will be the focus of the recently formed Inner City Collaborative Action Group.
The group brings together the Christchurch City Council, Police, the Christchurch City Mission and the Central City Business Association (CCBA) who are working to understand the issue and develop long term solutions.
“We know there are a few people displaying anti-social behaviour in the central city and it can be intimidating for people coming in to work, eat, drink, shop and spend time in the CBD,” Group Lead Shaun Stockman says.
“So instead of all of the different agencies working in silos to try and address issue individually, we are taking a collaborative approach to improve the lives of people living or begging on the streets, as well as making the city as safe as possible.”
As part of the work Council has allocated three years of operational funding to the Christchurch City Mission to help with housing and social support.
Council has also funded the City Mission to lead an inner city social services network involving many of the agencies providing food and social service support to better provide a service that supports but does not duplicate provision.
“The CCBA are working alongside business owners to help identify people who need support and make sure they’re linked with the right welfare agencies,” Mr Stockman says.
Police have also been working to stem the criminal offending, holding several people to account over the past few months.
Inspector Leairne Dow, Area Prevention Manager Canterbury Police says: “We aim to engage, educate, encourage and learn from all interactions. On occasions we will exhaust all options and have no alternative but to take enforcement action.
Police has a zero tolerance approach to criminal activity and any behaviour which puts members of our community in danger, our ulitimate goal is a safe city for everyone, says Inspector Dow.
However, the group’s work is currently in the early stages and longer term solutions will be developed.
“Anyone wanting to help should get in touch with social agencies such as the City Mission who can direct funds to the appropriate place. We will also be updating how the group is progressing as work unfolds,” Mr Stockman says.