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Do you give money to beggars?

(74 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

Tegan Fri 21-Feb-14 20:50:35

I don't usually give money to beggars but a couple of weeks ago a young girl that was sleeping rough by the cinema car park was moved on by the police. As she was walking away she said something [can't remember what it was] and I wanted to run after here and give her the sweets that I keep in my bag in case I get a tickly cough when I'm watching the film. I've seen people sleeping rough in that past of town for years, but something about her got to me. But we had to get to our car, having paid the car park money and she'd then disapeared round the corner. It's still bothering me. The S.O.'s brother used to work at a night time refuge for the homeless; something I'd quite like to do but it's in a dodgy part of town and I'm a bit worried about parking my car there [it's got to last me forever].

seaspirit Fri 21-Feb-14 19:50:02

big issue is now classed as a self employed job, so I no longer buy it. here it is sold by people who can not write their name in their own language so why were they allowed in with no knowledge of English, we have nursing agencies that would not employ my daughter because she did not speak Polish so would not be able to speak to the other staff, when she said what about the people they were home helping , she was told they were old and stupid and wouldn't understand anyway, we don't have beggars here apart from the big issue girl, but when I lived in London I gave food, but not if they had alcohol

Bernie46 Fri 21-Feb-14 19:31:09

This happens a lot. They want money for booze or cigarettes / drugs so I dont give anything. I can usually tell by how someone looks and the way they ask whether or not they are genuine people on hard times or 'wasters'. If they're genuine (or I think they are) I will talk to them a bit and work out how I can help them (food, money etc).

chrisy69 Tue 28-Jan-14 16:22:35

I give money to registered organisations, rather than people who approach me in the street. As I think the money will be used more wisely by them.

Aka Sun 19-Jan-14 14:10:00

There was an elderly Asian man playing the saxaphone in the square yesterday. He was very gifted, and was coaxing the most amazingly beautiful tones from his instrument. It's sad that such a talent is almost wasted - it was worthy of a wider and more appreciative audience.

lefthanded Sun 19-Jan-14 10:24:37

Always pay buskers - never pay beggars. That's been my mantra for years. And I don't care how good or bad the buskers are - at least they are making some effort to earn.

POGS Sun 19-Jan-14 01:17:07


Sadly your story does not surprise me.

mrsmopp Sun 19-Jan-14 01:10:35

We are involved in doing a soup run for the homeless sleeping rough. We go late evenings and they queue up waiting for us. We give them cheese batches and sometimes hats and scarves that people have donated for them.
Now would you believe there are people in cars who park up the road then come and join the queue for free soup?? We can't refuse in case a situation arises but doesn't it make you wonder what people are capable of? The mind boggles.

Elegran Wed 15-Jan-14 22:17:40

I'd say that selling the Big Issue is not now the great project it started off as. There are so many people doing it, and to buy something you do not really want so as to benefit the seller is a bit of a dead-end, really. It needs someone to take a new look and come up with some other plan to have people do something worth doing that will get them back into being a part of the workforce.

I don't have any suggestions as to what that should be, though.

POGS Wed 15-Jan-14 21:53:57

I agree with John Bird, founder of the Big Issue on 'not giving money to beggers'.

I also think the Big Issue however has been exploited somewhat over the last few years, we have all read the stories surely.

Aka Wed 15-Jan-14 21:45:52

I've been unemployed and that's bad enough, but I've never been homeless be that must be truly horrendous.

Aka Wed 15-Jan-14 21:44:58

Elegran my point was I felt cheated because I thought I was helping to support the homeless.

Elegran Wed 15-Jan-14 21:38:17

Just pointing out, Aka that "unemployed" does not equal "unemployable" and that unemployed strangers are just as unemployed as are people known to us who cannot find a job.

annsixty Wed 15-Jan-14 21:26:23

Recently in Manchester when with my friend we were persuaded by a BI seller to buy his last two magazines.Half an hour later we came across him just around the corner with another armful. I think I learned a lesson that day.

rosesarered Wed 15-Jan-14 21:23:05

I usually buy a copy of the Big Issue, it's a good read. You should check that it's the latest one [out of date copies sold by unlicenced sellers] and that the seller has a badge.However, it is expensive [no more than any mag. but at £2.50 still more than I want to pay every week, so I don't buy it very often] but then I don't see the sellers all that often.I always keep a bit of loose change in my pocket if I go into the centre of Oxford [tons of beggars, very medieval!] I never take out my purse, it's asking for trouble.Out of the city centre though, I rarely see beggars. It's sad [for some of them, not all]you can tell there are mental health problems or that life has just taken a bad turn.There but for the grace of God, as someone has already said on here.
Be prepared for more foreign beggars on the streets very soon.

Aka Wed 15-Jan-14 21:02:04

Let's not get personal Elegran

NfkDumpling Wed 15-Jan-14 20:46:12

Thanks for the link Aka. The last time I bought a Big Issue in Norwich he wanted £3. I shall be more careful in future.

TriciaF Wed 15-Jan-14 17:43:56

When we lived in England I always gave to people who sold the Big Issue, and usually tried to chat with them to hear their story. One of ours was homeless for a while and it can happen to anyone.
Here in rural France we don't see so many, but I give to those outside the supermarket, usually from Roumania.
Many of the locals need it more but don't ask. There's a lot of poverty here, by our standards.

Elegran Wed 15-Jan-14 17:12:27

If they earn enough by selling the Big Issue to keep their accommodation, they will not sink so far as to be homeless, and not all the homeless want to be sellers of the big Issue, so there is room for those who have somewhere to live, but no income.

If Phoenix were to decide that the Big Issue were the only option for her, would you refuse to buy from her, while still wishing her good luck in her job-seeking on the forum?

Aka Wed 15-Jan-14 13:55:02

I stopped buying the Big Issue when I found it was not being sold by the exclusively homeless anymore but was a career choice for some people. I had spotted the same seller in three different towns, in one week, and noticed she was pregnant. I know from working with Social Workers that the Local Authority has a duty of care in these circumstances so told her she did not have to be homeless, whereupon she informed me she had a council house. I felt cheated, as I'd previously given because I had assumed the sellers were all homeless and not simply unemployed.

NfkDumpling Wed 15-Jan-14 13:23:17

I buy the Big Issue - although not so often now as the price has gone up. It does have some interesting articles and good (though generally rather depressing) poetry and the sellers here all seem quite a cheerful bunch.

Elegran Wed 15-Jan-14 13:11:35

Have you read the book about Bob, the street cat? That is a very good account by a seller of the Big Issue of how being adopted by a stray cat changed his life around. He had someone besides himself to take care of, so was accepted into the Big Issue project - not easy, as he had to satisfy their criteria, and be motivated to succeed.

It is not begging. They have to order and buy the number of copies they think they will sell. They have to plan their work, and take the location that is allocated to them, and turn up regularly or they lose it. New starts get a difficult pitch, which weeds out those who think it is just begging and will not take any effort on their part.

Once they have supported themselves by selling the publication, they have something to use as a CV when applying for other work. They have proved that they can keep at something, appear to work as they said they would, and make a plan and stick to it, and keep back enough of their earnings to restock with the next issue.

I don't know how the Big Issue rates as a magazine - it has a lot in it about marginalised minorities, which probably does not appeal to everyone - but it is still a tangible thing to be sold, not a passport to a begging bowl.

janthea Wed 15-Jan-14 12:51:17

I never give to beggers. There is an Eastern European/Roma woman outside my local Waitrose who sells Big Issues. She has been there for at least 3 years. She sits on a chair and spends her time on her mobile phone.

There's another Big Issue Seller outside Charing Cross station and he has been there for at least 5 or 6 years!! Nicely dressed, always cheerful, but why isn't he working, not begging! Again often chatting on his mobile phone.

Flowerofthewest Wed 15-Jan-14 09:46:35

We have one local lady who regularly asks for money or a cigarette. I once heard in a nearby bush with another 'person of the road' negotiating a do-nut for her services. I quickly walked to the next bus stop.

dorsetpennt Tue 14-Jan-14 09:36:47

In our area of Bournemouth , which has an almost village-like atmosphere , we have a Big Issue seller outside our local M and S food. We are particularly fond of our B.I. sellers here as they seem to allocate really nice guys to us, it is a largely middleclass and elderly population area. Know your market. About five years ago we had Ralph. He'd had that spot of several years. As well as selling his magazine, he'd hold your dog for you whilst you shopped, he even held my suit case once as I'd forgotten something and had to dash back home for it before the coach came. He refused a tip as he said I'd miss my coach. Every now and then he'd slip off the wagon but soon got back on again. To our horror he was murdered one night by three thugs who kicked him to death.[oldest thug was 17 years old, great start to your life]. His funeral was held at a local church and it was packed, as the funeral cortege passed by everyone stopped and bowed their heads in respect.
We have had several B.I. sellers after that but none were as loved as Ralph. Until Ben showed up. He is in his 30's, polite and every bit as helpful. He also has a puppy called Oscar, a sweet little brown pooch - these two just adore each other. So as well as the odd £1 I give Oscar doggy treats or a tin of dog food. I give to Ben but not other beggars.