BY NEIL HATTON
A POSITIVE alternative to giving homeless people money is being put to the test in the Clapham area of Lambeth, South London.
The scheme allows members of the public to buy meal tickets, which are given to the homeless who redeem them for a meal at day centres around London.
The Ace-of-Clubs, a centre for the destitute operating from the back of St Mary's Catholic church in Clapham is piloting the scheme. Stewart Radcox, 31, Fund Raising Manager for the Ace of Clubs, said: "We are a charity that guides homeless and vulnerable people to a more secure way of life, by providing them with services, such as clothing, finding accommodation, financial and medical advice."
"Once a month a dentist comes in and once a week a nurse visits who distributes methadone and bandages any injuries.
"The main service we provide is to give homeless people access to a healthy diet, for 60p they receive a two-course meal.
"The reason we charge is so they feel a sense of responsibility and to contribute to the cost of the food. It empowers them and helps identify anyone with a long term money problem."
For example if someone had been visiting the centre for a couple of weeks but had not been paying for their food a care worker might approach them and encourage them to
talk about any money problems they may have.
Mr Radcox concluded by saying: "Some of our customers do beg to raise the money to pay for the meal, but often members of the public want to help but not contribute to drugs and drink, this scheme offers an alternative for these people."
The tickets are available in the Body Shop, Lambeth Building Society, and churches all across London.
The Ace-of-Clubs is in St Alphonsus Road. Clapham.