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December 10, 2010

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Extra care to help vagrants in winter

THE city is going to provide more assistance for vagrants to protect them from freezing winter days, local civil affairs authorities said yesterday.

The city has about 20 care centers, providing free food, accommodation, hot baths and even medical care if necessary, said the social welfare division of the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.

Now the services will be extended to help those that do not want to stay at shelters, providing food, water and clothing.

According to the country's regulations, the centers accept people who are not able to afford board and lodging, don't have any relatives or friends in the city and don't enjoy subsidies for people living below the poverty line.

"They can be beggars, ragpickers and migrant workers," said Ren Chiyue, deputy director of the division. "Some people came to the city for work, but had their money swindled or stolen."

Officials said vagrants have the option to turn to the centers for help or not. And sometimes the vagrants choose not to go there as they do not wish to adapt to the rules in the centers.

Usually they are asked to register their names and to provide their identity card in the centers, so they are scared that they will be sent back to their hometown.

According to the bureau, the centers helped around 800 people in the past week.

"For those who are not willing to come, we'll also provide them with food and water," said Ren.

The bureau also organizes volunteers to patrol the streets in the evening, trying to persuade vagrants to go to the centers, especially during the colder months of the year.

"Stations, ferry docks, underground passageways and bridge arches will be the key areas for the volunteers, as many vagrants choose such places to live," said Ren.


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