A COUNCIL has been accused of "demonising the homeless" after erecting posters which urge locals to not give cash to street sleepers as they may be pretending.
Gloucester City Council's poster titled "Are you really helping homeless people?" says "some people sleeping rough are in accommodation receiving support and benefits".
The "sick" poster shows a hooded beggar holding an empty coffee cup, and leaning on a ripped placard which says: "Change is more than coins. Think before you give."
In bold, the poster goes on to say: "Worried about someone sleeping rough? Give them the help they need by contacting the homeless outreach team."
Gloucester Labour Parliamentary candidate Fran Boait shared a snap of the "awful" poster on Twitter.
Slamming the council, she tweeted: "This is an awful advert. Streetlink is really important, but making people suspicious of homeless people is horrible.
"This framing is all wrong and undermines the care we need for people sleeping rough."
On Facebook, one horrified user said: "How f***ing sick are Gloucester council who would rather spend money on a poster campaign than spend money to help resolve the situation!!"
Another user said they couldn't imagine being homeless especially when such posters are being advertised.
Responding to Ms Boait's tweet, one user said: "It's a deliberately confusing message. Conflating begging with homelessness is tantamount to the "scrounger" rhetoric that has been promoted since 2010."
Gloucester's Labour party branch have slammed the council for claiming most homeless people are simply "trying to con people out of money".
In a joint statement, Councillor Terry Pullen and Ms Boat said: "We are absolutely disgusted by these posters and the Tories should be ashamed they have allowed them to go up.
"Clearly the nasty party is alive and kicking in Gloucester. This is shameful and effectively demonises one of the most vulnerable groups of people in our society who need our kindness and care.
"We call upon Gloucester City Council to immediately withdraw these posters.
"We are fully supportive of the initiatives that are in place to help homeless people and would welcome these being publicised in a positive way so that the public are aware as to what they can do to help the homeless.
"Streetlink is an important organisation but its advertised in small print at the bottom of
the page. The current campaign is based on negativity and not the right way to go about things."
This poster was erected weeks after Gloucester City Council permitted the launch of homeless shelter after initially objecting it.
The George Whitfield Centre welcomes around 13 people each night since opening its doors on January 5.
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