Whole Foods Stoke Newington sparks outrage with sign telling customers not to give ‘money or food’ to beggars

The poster in Whole Foods Stoke Newington.

The poster in Whole Foods Stoke Newington. - Credit: Archant

Yuppie food chain Whole Foods has caused outrage in Stoke Newington with a sign in its Church Street store telling customers not to give money or food to beggars.

Whole Foods in Stoke Newington High Street. Picture: Google Maps

Whole Foods in Stoke Newington High Street. Picture: Google Maps - Credit: Archant

Staff at the luxury natural and organic store have pinned a poster to the window saying offering help to people outside was encouraging “theft, aggressive behaviour and substance abuse”.

The message, which is also repeated on the shop’s tills, adds that there are local charities that would love support and urges people to consider that before giving money away.

One passer-by was so incensed by the sign after seeing it a couple of weeks ago that she confronted the store staff.

“I understand there’s a problem but it’s pretty offensive, and it’s not true,” she told the Gazette. “I said: ‘At least give details of a few local charities for people to contact’.

“He [the manager] accepted my concerns. 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.

“You can’t just say it encourages these things, it’s not cause and effect. It’s outrageous.”

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The woman has since posted about it on Facebook with dozens of people expressing their anger at the poster.

Homeless charity Thames Reach advises not giving money to beggars but says: “By all means, engage with people on the street. Perhaps buy them food or a cup of tea.”

Streets Kitchen, a national grassroots organisation that helps homeless people, said the poster needed to be taken down.

“It’s b******s, man. It’s demonising the homeless community,” said a spokesman.

“The no food thing is just beyond. Even ‘don’t give money’ – that’s up to the individual to decide.

“The shop is supposed to be an asset to the community.”

Whole Foods was recently bought out by Amazon in a $13.7billion deal. Darren Campbell, manager of the Stoke Newington branch, said he was new to the store and didn’t yet know who had put the sign up or whether any charities had been consulted beforehand.

He told the Gazette: “I need to find out and see if it’s an appropriate message or not and if it was done at store level or regional level.

“Personally speaking I don’t have an issue with it [people outside the shop]. I think it’s part of the community and it’s about finding something mutually beneficial. I ask them not to smoke outside but as far as their presence in the community goes I don’t want to be disrespectful, I wouldn’t condone that.”