The UK town of Bolton is experiencing a rise in beggars with numbers increasing every week.
According to Bolton Council, the majority of people begging in the city have somewhere to live but could be dealing with other issues related to addiction or mental health.
However, homeless charities see begging as being linked to several factors including the cost of living, rough sleeping and homelessness.
What’s more, while not everyone in Bolton is begging, there are signs that the cost of living crisis is biting more than ever.
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, local people said they still try to help out when they can, even if they can’t give very much.
Ted Casey, 55, said: “If people come up to me asking if I’ve got any change, I can’t say no.
“If they’re homeless, I want to help. I saw a chap before who didn’t look homeless but he was asking for money. I can’t give it to everyone.”
While local Angela Hunt said: “We see four different people sat outside the supermarket throughout the course of the day.
“I feel sorry for them because they’re friendly.”
A spokesperson for Bolton Council said it has been providing comprehensive cost-of-living support and guidance, and encourages people to support the local initiative Hope for Change rather than give money to people directly.
As to why the number of people who are either homeless or begging has risen, Homeless Link’s Rick Henderson said one of the major factors was that society was not helping them like it once was.
He explained: “People are being let down by systems that should protect them, forced onto the streets at the expense of their physical and mental health.
“At the same time, continuing financial pressures mean hundreds of homelessness services across the country are on the brink of closing down, risking leaving people experiencing homelessness with nowhere to turn.”
Furthermore, other charities have claimed that the Government’s decision to crack down on beggars could make the situation worse and push more people towards criminality.
Crisis chief executive Matt Downie said: “Criminalising people who are sleeping rough or begging is not the answer to tackling rough sleeping which the government knows full well.
“The real focus should be supporting people into safe accommodation, so they can rebuild their lives away from the streets.
“Instead of focusing on punitive measures, the Westminster Government should get on with building more truly affordable housing, providing wraparound support services and investing in housing benefits so people can pay their rent.”