Whole Foods Stoke Newington tells customers not to give ‘money or food’ to beggars

Hackney branch of the healthy-eating food chain has sparked 'outrage' with a sign telling people to consider 'supporting charities' instead

Whole Foods Beggar Sign
(Image credit: Facebook)

A Stoke Newington branch of the healthy-eating supermarket chain Whole Foods has caused “outrage”, after the store put up a sign telling customers not to give money or food to beggars.

According to the sign, offering these things to people outside was encouraging “theft, aggressive behaviour and substance abuse” in the neighbourhood, adding that, instead patrons should donate to local homeless charities.

The message, which is also repeated on the shop’s tills according to the Hackney Gazette, has caused outrage in the community.

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One witness was so “incensed” by the sign that she confronted the store staff, telling the Gazette: “I understand there’s a problem but it’s pretty offensive, and it’s not true. At least give details of a few local charities for people to contact.

“I fully accept they don’t want staff to be abused and they need to take action, but the way it comes across is absolutely shocking.”

Thames Reach, a homeless charity based in London, agrees that giving money to beggars may not be a good idea, but adds that: “By all means, engage with people on the street. Perhaps buy them food or a cup of tea.”

“It’s b******s, man. It’s demonising the homeless community,” said a spokesman for Streets Kitchen, a homeless charity. “The no food thing is just beyond. The shop is supposed to be an asset to the community.”

Twitter users also decried the sign:

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Last year, however, the BBC wrote that studies show that giving money to beggars “can have fatal consequences”, claiming that the outreach team of Thames Reach estimated that “80 percent of people begging in the capital do so to support a drug habit”.

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