BHT’s Hastings Advice Centre has been awarded £15, 579 funding to run a pilot project working with people who have been caught shoplifting for essential items such as nappies and food in order to survive.
The Reach Out project, funded by the Big Lottery Advice Services Transition Fund, will help to tackle the growing trend of usually law-abiding people who have turned to shoplifting for items such as meat, baby milk and cheese.
Levels of extreme poverty, often caused by benefit sanctions and cost of living increases, have been blamed for the rise. Professionals have warned that these rises could increase as more cuts are threatened.
My colleague, Jo Wilson, who is the manager of the BHT Hastings Advice Centre, said: “We are really pleased to be able to pilot this project in Hastings and be able to support people who feel that they have no way out of their situation. The Project will start by looking to see if there are issues with housing, debt and benefits that led to the person to shoplift.
“If we can resolve these issues, the person may not feel like their only option to survive would be to shoplift. Ultimately, shoplifting is a criminal offence and the Reach Out Project won’t stop people from being charged and possibly convicted but we hope it will prevent them from reoffending in the future.”
For more information on the Reach Our Project please contact Jo Wilson on 01424 452613