York & North Yorkshire

Contactless payment terminal to help Harrogate homeless

Hand holding a debit card to a contactless payment terminal Image copyright Harrogate Borough Council
Image caption The terminal has been installed in the window of Marks and Spencer on Oxford Street, Harrogate

Yorkshire's first contactless payment terminal for people to make donations to tackle begging and rough sleeping has been installed in Harrogate.

The Street Aid scheme was set up by the council, police and a local charity.

Money raised via the terminal on Oxford Street will be used to fund projects to help people off the streets, said the authority.

It is based on similar schemes running in Cambridge and Norwich, the council says.

Donations are made via debit or credit cards being tapped on to the terminal, which has been installed in the window of Marks and Spencer.

Image copyright Harrogate Borough Council
Image caption Julia Mulligan said the scheme "could have a life changing effect"

The cash is put into a central fund from which organisations supporting the homeless can apply for grants of up to £500.

North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said the initiative "could have a life changing effect" and hoped more terminals would be installed in the region.

"It's great that the public want to help homeless people, but sometimes giving them cash can cause further problems, rather than the good intended.

"We also need to do the very best we can to help the homeless rebuild their lives over the longer term, which is the aim of this programme."

Councillor Mike Chambers, cabinet member for safer communities and housing at Harrogate Borough Council, said grants could be given for projects including mental health provision, training and education courses, as well as helping rough sleepers find employment.

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