It’s known as the Granite Mile and the heart of Aberdeen.
But Union Street is also at the centre of work being done by Aberdeen Cyrenians to support people who street beg this winter.
Our Assertive Outreach Street Begging Project has been operating in the city centre since 2017, offering advice and advocacy to anyone begging for money, and workers will still be stepping out throughout the colder months.
Lynda Reid-Fowler, Community Services Lead, said:
‘We go out at various points throughout the week to chat to people who are begging, and have found that being a visible presence on Union Street offers a reliable point of contact. Some people find it difficult to go to appointments or services and so going out and meeting people where they are can overcome this.
‘The Street Begging team will still be stepping out in the run up to Christmas as we have found in previous years that there is a seasonal spike in the number of people asking for money on the streets, as more shoppers start to appear.
‘Many people who street beg may not necessarily be facing an accommodation crisis but are still extremely vulnerable, facing many difficult situations, and can find themselves spending their days on the streets.
‘Only by being out there, approaching people and asking them if they need help, can a supportive and compassionate relationship be built, this in turn may lead to us being able to assist with any concerns or needs they may have.
The Assertive Outreach Street Begging Project at Aberdeen Cyrenians is a commissioned service from Aberdeen City Council up until March 31st 2020.
'A lot of people who are begging are extremely isolated and being on the streets offers them more opportunities for social connection and interaction than sitting indoors, looking at four cold, lonely walls’.Lynda Reid-Fowler, Community Services Lead
Mike Burns, Chief Executive said:
‘The work done by the Assertive Outreach Street Begging Project is invaluable as it allows us to reach the most vulnerable people in the city - once someone has interacted with our Street Begging worker, they can then be referred to other services like Housing First, Direct Access and Street Alternatives.
‘Direct Access, which plans to operate a drop in service 365 days a year, allows anyone facing homelessness and hardship the chance to meet with a trained support worker, and get access to food parcels, fresh clothing and toiletries – people will also often be referred to Street Alternatives, which provides hot meals, and access to showers and laundry facilities four times a week.
‘People often face crisis’ throughout the festivities, and so we always increase our Street Alternatives service throughout the festive break, offering meals and activities everyday throughout the holiday period, and always have a support worker at these sessions should anyone present in dire need during this time’.
Direct Access and Street Alternatives will run every day for two weeks from 21st December providing hot meals, and access to showers, laundry facilities, clothing and toiletries.
We are accepting donations of food, clothing and toiletries in the run up to Christmas, as well as financial donations to support their work over the festive period and in 2020.
Donations can be made to the charity via the website or in person at their office 62 Summer Street, Aberdeen, AB10 1SB, Monday to Thursday 9.00am - 5.00pm, Friday 9.00am - 4.00pm.