"ACTS of kindness" are not tackling the very serious issue of homelessness in Redditch. That is the stern verdict of borough councillor Mark Shurmer.
Council bosses recently launched a poster campaign, both online and across the town, which questions whether giving cash, refreshments and clothes to homeless people is actually helping them to get off the streets.
The drive comes after a homeless encampment between Prospect Hill and Redditch Ringway sparked concerns from residents.
Cllr Mark Shurmer, whose portfolio covers homelessness, said: "It is very unlikely that if someone is homeless in Redditch that we don’t know about it and haven’t made contact in some way.
"We want to offer long term solutions for these people and unfortunately, acts of kindness from the public and other organisations are not tackling the underlying issues.
"These posters may seem hard-hitting but we have to break this cycle.
"By working together and informing residents how they can help us to really help a homeless person, we can make a real difference and change someone’s life for the better."
The council has already met with local groups and organisations who help the homeless in Redditch to work out a concerted effort to address the issue.
Housing strategy manager Derek Allen added: "The kindness of people can sometimes inadvertently support a street presence cycle – and it’s not a solution to ending that.
"Our poster challenges people by asking them, are they really helping a homeless person.
"By signposting them to our website where we explain why their kindness is not necessarily offering a long term solution.
"But we do explain what they can do, by working with us, to help get people off the streets, long term.
"The best way to help people off the streets is for the council and residents to encourage people of the streets by giving them the same message."
Following the campaign's release, organisations helping the town’s homeless community have raised concerns.
Ben Rafiqi, chairman of Radiate Redditch, an initiative which provides winter day and night provision for the homeless, said: "From our point of view we are a little concerned with the approach.
"We do understand they (the council) obviously feel under pressure as no one thinks they are doing anything.
"The problem, at the end of the day, is to say a helping a homeless person will keep them on the streets is dangerous.
"Ninety nine per cent of people out on the streets to not want to be there.
"The approach concerns me to say that people in Redditch, by helping them are keeping them on the streets.
"In all my experience, the kindness of people helps people on the streets – not in any other way."
He added that if the community came together to fund an emergency shelter, which he said could be done economically with the help of volunteers, this would go a long way towards helping the homeless.
For more information about the campaign click here.