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To expect Big Issue sellers to actually need our charity?

(50 Posts)
lefthanded Thu 20-Nov-14 10:02:51

This morning I watched the Big Issue seller in our local shopping precinct, take a pack of 20 Benson & Hedges cigarettes from his pocket and proceed to light one.

How much do 20 B & H cost these days? £8.50? £9.00?

Big Issue sellers buy the magazine from the publishers for £1.50 and sell it on the streets for £3 per copy. The idea being that earning money is better than begging and allows the homeless to have a way of getting money with dignity. Am I being unreasonable to think that anyone who can afford to pay £9 for 20 cigarettes doesn't need (or deserve) my charity?

vampirequeen Thu 20-Nov-14 10:17:44

I'm torn on this one having been a smoker in the past and knowing how good it made me feel but I have to admit that it would have riled me to think money I'd given had just gone up in smoke.

baubles Thu 20-Nov-14 10:27:04

Is it charity if you are buying a copy of the Big Issue?

Agus Thu 20-Nov-14 10:27:21

YABVU. You really think it acceptable to have a go at someone reduced to begging in the street?

lefthanded Thu 20-Nov-14 10:36:56

Is someone who can afford £9 cigarettes really "reduced to begging in the street"?

vampirequeen Thu 20-Nov-14 10:51:05

I don't think the OP was having a go at the homeless.

The Big Issue isn't just sold by the homeless. It can also be sold by the long term unemployed. Now this raises a dilemma for me. I am on benefits and therefore technically poor. I accept that someone living on the streets is worse off than me and I don't have any problem sharing what little I have with them. However I do have a problem giving money to someone who is claiming benefits and has somewhere to live. Just like me they're technically poor. Should I share what little I have with someone who isn't worse off than me esp if it's being used to smoke and/or drink.

I don't begrudge a penny to the truly destitute and I'm also more than happy for them to have a dog. If I was out at all hours I'd like to at least have a dog for company etc. However around here the Big Issue sellers don't have yappy little mongrels which would be the obvious choice…a friend but cheap to feed. Several of them have big pedigree dogs like Siberian Huskies and Akitas. Now these dogs are expensive to buy and need a lot of looking after so you can’t help asking yourself if they can afford these dogs why are they selling the Big Issue on the streets.

soontobe Thu 20-Nov-14 10:51:52

I give to Big Issue sellers. I used to speak to our regular one frequently. He did have a rented flat to go back to. But he seemed to really value that people were giving him a helping hand.
He didnt stop selling the Big Issue until his health deteriorated to such an extent that he was in danger, through being out in all weathers.

Smoking is quite addictive isnt it?

soontobe Thu 20-Nov-14 10:55:23

I think that you have good points there vampirequeen.
I wouldnt be so keen to give to those where you are either.

Our Big Issue sellers do look rather down and out. In luck as well as circumstances.

My regular seller did have a home and family once upon a time. I dont know the circumstances of what happened to get him to where he was.
and no dog in sight!

Mishap Thu 20-Nov-14 11:09:20

I would not begrudge him his fag - don't approve on health grounds, but heaven knows he probably needs a bit of a boost. It is hard to make judgements about what is true poverty - the always was an argument about the "deserving" and "undeserving" poor. I usually assume that the BIG ISSUE management have some sensible criteria for including people and I just buy one anyway on the principle that if you are reduced to standing on the street in all weathers then life can't be too great and you probably need some help.

Agus Thu 20-Nov-14 11:14:15

I just feel that anyone, for whatever reason, who find themselves in this sad situation have lost enough dignity without others who have no idea what living like this must be like are being unreasonable to judge them.

Grannyknot Thu 20-Nov-14 11:36:35

Most people who sell The Big Issue would be mortified if they saw themselves being described on here as beggars. I view it as they're running their own businesses and can do with their income as they please.

POGS Thu 20-Nov-14 11:44:09

Sorry I think a lot of Big Issue sellers are nothing more than conmen/women. Yes that is a harsh view but what was once a good thing has been tarnished and needs investigating.

Even John Bird, the founder of The Big Issue has sincere reservations of how it is being abused. Look up his comments. A lot of you will have watched interviews with him I'm sure.

mollie65 Thu 20-Nov-14 11:47:01

big issue sellers are not necessarily homeless and sleeping rough - indeed they are eligible for housing benefit and the rest - as self employed.
not sure they are any more worthy than others who are on benefits and poor.

soontobe Thu 20-Nov-14 11:55:17

My guess is that they are not claiming as many benefits because they are trying to get themselves off them.
My Big Issue seller said that he was having interesting conversations with, I think he said the benefits people, or it could have been tax people, about how much he was earning in a regular week.
He said that it just wasnt possible to really say what a regular week was. And it changed with the seasons. And also, if it was raining for instance, the town was not so busy. And also if it was raining, there were only so many hours he could stick standing out in the rain and damp.

Jane10 Thu 20-Nov-14 12:04:54

I have been wary of Big Issus sellers since one took advantage of a learning disabled woman of my acquaintance. The kind hearted little lady was persuaded to buy a Romanian Big Issue saleswoman firstly a fish supper then graduated to feeling forced to take her shopping several times a week and eventually having to spend almost her entire benefits (luckily we found out in time) buying this woman all sorts of shopping. This woman continued to sell Big Issues outside Waitrose smiling ever so nicely at people and I was the one who got the dirty looks for growling warningly at her if she tried to approach me!! Not representative of all Big Issue sellers but significantly off putting for me anyway. I should also say that I employ a Romanian woman and pay her at above market rates. Its well worth it as she`s such an enthusiastic and pleasant worker. She and her hard working husband are mortified at the exploits of some of her compatriots.

Nelliemoser Thu 20-Nov-14 12:11:25

There are some Big Issue sellers in a town near me who who I suspect sell the big issue in number of local towns as a family business sideline. I have no hard evidence of this but I am not convinced about their status.

harrigran Thu 20-Nov-14 12:25:24

YANBU lefthanded.

soontobe Thu 20-Nov-14 12:25:46

I think the Big Issue company or whatever it is called, want to be informed of anything dodgy or possibly dodgy that their sellers get up to.
And also if their status is suspect.

Mishap Thu 20-Nov-14 12:52:14

*Jane10" - anyone taking advantage like that needs reporting.

Mishap Thu 20-Nov-14 13:00:21

And there are always unscrupulous people who take advantage of a good project like this. It s a shame when these few charlatans give all a bad name. I used to have this problem when getting benefits for the seriously disabled - they felt guilty and were worried about being labelled as scroungers.

lefthanded Thu 20-Nov-14 13:08:48

YABVU? YANVU? Have I strayed into some alternative universe?

merlotgran Thu 20-Nov-14 13:28:20

There used to be a Big Issue seller outside our local Waitrose as well but I think/hope he's been moved on now. He would spot somebody walking past the entrance from the car park and suddenly step in front of them causing them to stop or have to step sideways. I sometimes had to go to great lengths to avoid him because with my arthritic knees it is painful to suddenly have to change direction to avoid running into somebody.

If you went into Waitrose he'd be there waiting for you to come out and watch you go back to your car. If you then went back to return the trolley and attempt to go to another shop he'd block your way again. angry

I haven't seen him for a few weeks so I hope that's the end of him.

Anniebach Thu 20-Nov-14 13:35:11

Why are the likes of those who sell The Big Issue be judged by those who claim to be giving to charity as to how they spend their money

I think there is such a big difference in giving to charity and giving in charity

soontobe Thu 20-Nov-14 13:46:09

I think that the Big Issue charity is a bit unlike any other.
We can see a little of what the recipients choose to do with their money.
Personally I shall still give. I prefer to give locally.

When money goes off to big organisations, for various reasons, some good, some bad, large sums of money never actually reach those who it is intended for.

mollie65 Thu 20-Nov-14 14:26:22

do you really mean this?
My guess is that they are not claiming as many benefits because they are trying to get themselves off them.
they would claim the same amount as other 'self-employed' people with families as well as means tested benefits - the only one they probably don't claim is JSA
my point is - they are as entitled (no more nor less) as any other self employed person - but why treat their activities as requiring charitable giving when they are not necessarily homeless and sleeping rough?
agree with merlotgran I too have encountered very intimidating and pushy Big Issue sellers.