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Do you give money to beggars?

(73 Posts)
Marelli Sun 12-Jan-14 10:29:55

The other day I'd just got out of the car and was crossing the car park when a young woman came up to me and asked for 20 pence. She was very bedraggled and I'm pretty sure (well, more than sure, really) that she was an addict. I told her 'No', and kept walking to the shop doorway. She ran after me, and I was a bit worried that she may just grab my bag (I'd got a large amount of money in it and I was also intending to go to the bank), but instead she changed her course and asked another woman who'd just got out of her car. The woman gave her 20 pence, and when I spoke to her, said, "Well, it was just 20 pence."
I went into the shop, bought a hot filled roll and went out to look for the girl but she'd disappeared.
I can't get her out of my mind. If I'd had food in my bag, I'd have given her that. sad

harrigran Sun 12-Jan-14 11:49:48

I would give small amounts of change but not notes. DH gave a girl a substantial amount of money in a big city, I told him she was well known and her father had asked people not to give because she had actually had a home and sold it to fund her habit, a couple of weeks later she was found dead.

Soutra Sun 12-Jan-14 11:57:33

It has always been my hope to be able to give food or a hot drink to the beggars one sees particularly outside the Railway station, or biscuits or a "treat" for the inevitable dog accompanying them. Never prepared and when I see cans of beer beside them on the pavement my cynical side wins over Christian charity and I do my best not to make eye contact. I know it is a scam (mostly) but a woman with a young child tugs the heartstrings most. Maybe I should have a bagful of snacks/biscuits etc.
Sadly the numbers of young beggars seems to be rocketing - homelessness, mental health issues, drug addiction, alcoholism etc must surely be at the root of it but it also makes me cross to see a young and apparently fit person begging on the streets.

janerowena Sun 12-Jan-14 11:58:03

The Big Issue is about my limit, after living in Winchester where beggars are rife. I hated it, they would deliberately place themselves where the most people had to squeeze through the smallest walkways and literally had to step over them. One woman with a dog used to heckle me for money to feed the poor starving dog. So I bought her two boxes of dried dog food. She didn't look happy. When I first moved there I gave money, until the day I saw three faces I knew walking out of the garage shop loaded down with carrier bags after a hard day's begging.

Up at the top of the city behind the library there was a hostel, in the main restaurant and takeaway area. My daughter would buy an extra portion of chips when she was out with her friends and talk to the men, which worried me. She discovered that they bought drugs with the benefit money, then had to beg for money for food.

Charleygirl Sun 12-Jan-14 12:04:20

I never give money to beggars. When I was working I offered a young man the choice of a sandwich as we were close to a shop and he chose the most expensive one there! At least he was unlikely to sell it on.

J52 Sun 12-Jan-14 12:13:21

I will give money to street performers, if they are playing their instruments ie: not pre recorded. I enjoy music in the street and think it should be encouraged.
Several years ago, when DH worked for a large city council, he recognised beggars at the train station, every morning, as tenants!

Soutra Sun 12-Jan-14 12:18:37

I am afraid I am really picky when it comes to street performers! If they bring a smile to my face, help me stride through the Underground station - fine. South Ken seems to get a good class of musician (students from Royal College perhaps?) but if they are rubbish, droning on, like a bad Bob Dylan-alike or just using amplified music from a CD - no way.

Galen Sun 12-Jan-14 12:26:22

There is a very good bagpipe player in Bristol and one excellent violin player.

soop Sun 12-Jan-14 12:29:25

I give what I can afford to beggars. There are none in Kintyre. In a city, if at all possible, I would prefer to give something nourishing.

nightowl Sun 12-Jan-14 12:40:37

I don't give anything to beggars. Nor do I buy the big issue. It doesn't seem to be a requirement that big issue sellers are homeless and therefore to me it no longer stands for what it was intended for. Instead I choose which charities I support regularly and make occasional donations to others. Maybe I'm heartless, but I want to make sure the money I donate is not wasted.

sunseeker Sun 12-Jan-14 12:56:14

Most charities ask that you don't give money to beggars as there is a real danger they will spend it on alcohol or drugs. When I used to go into the city centre regularly I would buy a sandwich and a hot drink for a beggar, very rarely gave money.

Lilygran Sun 12-Jan-14 13:03:45

Food if they come to the door, small change in the street. If they didn't have the cash to spend on drugs or drink, what would they do? I don't expect they'd say, 'Oh, well, no luck today' and go home to their nice warm flat.

Lilygran Sun 12-Jan-14 13:04:42

What the charities mean is, give it to them, not to random individuals.

grannyactivist Sun 12-Jan-14 13:36:36

No, I never give money to beggars. I've had several homeless people here for meals, showers etc. and a couple of years back I had a man who came to live here on the day he was made homeless. I think he was here for about seven months, but we had very strict rules that he mostly adhered to. It completely turned his life around and he went into rehab and hasn't looked back. One homeless man tried to threaten me in my own kitchen when I was preparing a meal one evening and I was alone in the house with him. I gave him short shrift and, having been a 'regular' here, he never came back. Since then there's only one such (not homeless, but mentally ill and chaotic) man I allow to be in the house with me when I'm on my own.
I have a lovely, kind young man lodging with me, who after hearing a talk by someone who lived on the streets has bought dozens of pairs of thick warm socks to hand out to street sleepers. Apparently warm dry socks are like gold dust on the streets. (My lodger thought he was buying 27 pairs of sock online, the most he could afford, but it turned out they were packs of three, so he's distributed them to others in the church so that we can all be armed with socks to hand out when we come across a street sleeper. smile)

Gally Sun 12-Jan-14 13:56:26

No, I don't.
We have a 'resident' man of the road in our village. He never asks for anything, but is always grateful for anything he receives, be it clothes, food or recently, a bicycle. He obviously has had mental health problems and likes a drink. He is a Londoner and used to work for Dunn's the Gentleman's Outfitters. One day for whatever reason, he just packed up and left and has been living rough ever since - in the winter he takes up residence in a stone hut in the cemetery and in summer he sets up camp in the woods. He happened upon our village about 7 years ago and has never left.... Mostly he communicates but there are days when he is on a downer and ignores everyone. I gave him some leather boots last year and he was on the doorstep the next day to thank me and offering to help in the garden and he often knocks and asks for hot water for his flask - and he sends Christmas cards to most of the residents!
Sorry - strayed from the subject somewhat wink

Riverwalk Sun 12-Jan-14 14:05:46

If I have change in my pocket and the beggar seems genuine then yes I do.

Gally I was going to say what a nice story but that doesn't sound quite right, if you know what I mean! I'm sad that the man is homeless and alone but he's stumbled upon a compassionate village so no wonder he's stayed seven years. smile

Marelli Sun 12-Jan-14 14:21:19

I just so wish she'd been there when I'd run outside with the food. My conscience is really bothering me about this, actually, because she was crying, and I thought she was so desperate that she was going to 'jump' me. I don't want to seem too dramatic here, but the fact that she was following me at a hurried pace, made me nervous. If she'd run off with my bag, I'd never have caught her.

Riverwalk Sun 12-Jan-14 14:52:54

Don't feel bad Marelli - as I said, I give if have change in my pocket and would never get my purse out in case it's grabbed.

I rarely give to someone who stops and asks as you don't have time to do a quick recce as to whether you think they're genuine or not, as you can when approaching someone sitting there.

Enviousamerican Sun 12-Jan-14 15:20:13

In my city we've been told not to give money to the homeless.Churches and homeless shelters take in people and the ones that are trying to turn their life around help put a newspaper together and sell it on street corners.Im sure a lot of times they receive more than a dollar for the papers.

whenim64 Sun 12-Jan-14 15:56:30

No, but I will always offer to buy a drink and sandwich. I worked in a probation day centre for homeless people before I qualified and would watch as the people came in and divvied up money for cigarettes, cannabis and fruit machines. We provided nourishing hot meals, subsidised, so they could eat cheaply or for free. The homeless people who collect money in order to feed the dog they have with them, if they are genuine, will welcome tins and packets of dog good.

Marelli Sun 12-Jan-14 15:56:50

Thank you, Riverwalk smile.
I'm in a village and there are no beggars where I live. As in Gally's village, we do have one chap who lives rough rides about on his bike, not communicating with anyone but he doesn't beg. In the winter, sometimes food is left for him where he can find it by people who know where he's settling for the night.

Pennysue Sun 12-Jan-14 16:26:21

I thought the Big Issue was a way of getting you "Back on your feet)" so how come the same young(ish) woman has been sat outside the same shop in our town for at least 3 years.

A town approximately 6 miles away has another lady who has sat in the same place for about the same amount of time. I would like to be able to afford the flash brand new Mercedes-Benz which picks them both up each evening

petallus Sun 12-Jan-14 16:27:27

There are only Big Issue sellers in the town where I live. However I give to beggars when I go up to London. I take the risk that they might spend it on something I wouldn't approve of.

I'm inclined to think: there but for the grace of God....

What stops me giving is if I come upon a beggar unexpectedly and then I feel too embarrassed to stop and fumble for my purse. I've got to have the money to hand.

petallus Sun 12-Jan-14 16:28:35

On second thoughts, we do have beggars where I live.

The monks from the local Buddhist Monastery sometimes appear in their orange robes with their food bowls.

Nelliemoser Sun 12-Jan-14 16:34:36

Gally what we used to call a tramp. I suspect a lot of them have borderline mental health issues.

I don't live where we get many but I would only consider giving a sandwich or such. I think there is probably still some law against begging with children in tow.