Gransnet forums


Giving to a person begging on the Underground

(111 Posts)
Robert Sat 05-Mar-16 23:50:23

I was on the Tube in London on Thursday and opposite me were a mum and two little girls. One was hers and the other was her best friend - about 5. They were going to a kids' theatre show for a birthday outing.
A man walked down the compartment asking for money. Actually I'd seen him doing the same the day before. "Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm very sorry to trouble you but I'm trying to get myself straight, and I need just a bit of money to help me do that. I need a place to sleep tonight. I hate asking you but if you can spare some change I'd be very grateful." Everyone [including me] looked down at their iPhone, iPad, book or newspaper and ignored him. The mum opposite took a £2 coin out of her purse. By now the man was a couple of yards down the compartment, so she gave the coin to her little girl who walked after the man and gave him the money. When she came back to her seat the child said to the mother: "I expect he's homeless."
As we arrived at the next station a lady who had been sitting nearby approached the mother: "I'm a social worker from XXXXX. That man is one of my clients. He gets housing benefit and he has a flat, and we've given him lots of other assistance. Give the money to the charity not to someone begging. He'll probably spend it on drink." The mother didn't answer but I said to the social worker (quietly): "You shouldn't have ticked off that mother in front of her children. They thought they were doing a good thing, and she was teaching the kids something. You may have got the man right but you shouldn't have told her off in front of them." She harumphed and got off the train.
Who was right? The mother or the social worker. Should I have kept quiet?

durhamjen Sun 06-Mar-16 00:05:30

The mother. Nothing wrong with teaching your children compassion.
Anyway, I bet the social worker has not tried to live on benefits recently.

Nelliemoser Sun 06-Mar-16 00:17:54

Is this a hypothetical situation? It certainly sounds like it.

The social worker should have kept her mouth shut about knowing the man at all and telling everyone about his situation. She is being totally unprofessional.

I generally would not give money to someone begging. How did he pay for a tube ticket in the first place?
I might have bought someone in that position a hot drink and a sandwich.

Tell the man to talk to St Martins.

Synonymous Sun 06-Mar-16 01:07:25

If this actually happened I don't think anyone come out of that all clean and light and shining bright.

The SW, if she was indeed a SW, taught everyone that there is often much more to any situation than meets the eye but also gave out confidential information which she had no business doing.

If the SW was who she said she was and was factually correct then the man begging lied to gain money and clearly had no shame in doing so in front of a carriage full of people. I think they call that deception in legal circles and used to be 'gaining pecuniary advantage by deception' but think it is called something else now. Bit late for my brain box to be thinking of things like that but no doubt someone else will have better knowledge of that than I have anyway.

The mother sent a small child with a gift to a man neither of them knew and clearly needs to be very much more careful. She would have been better to have done the deed herself rather than encourage an unsafe action.

In telling the SW off you probably confused the issue for the child if not the mother too. hmm

Personally I would never give money to someone begging as I prefer to give to fulfil a need as in food etc.

Coolgran65 Sun 06-Mar-16 01:27:48

I don't give to anyone begging.

Alea Sun 06-Mar-16 08:12:01

Hypothetical situation.
There is a word for this.

Robert Sun 06-Mar-16 08:31:25

I can absolutely assure everyone that this was a real incident on the Northern Line at about 9.45 am on Thursday. And when I spoke to the social worker I did so very quietly so the mum and two little girls couldn't hear. The mum sent the little girl with the coin as I expect she thought it was safer to keep her seat with the other child and watch what the little girls was doing a couple of yards away, and maybe she thought it would be a good lesson for the child. I don't think I've ever posted on Gransnet before - but this seemed to me to be a moral/behaviour issue on which i was interested to hear the views of other people. Do we support beggars? If we say we don't, do we in fact give to homeless charities? Was it right for the mother to give the coin via a child - when musicians play in the street I've often given a coin to my children or (now) grandchildren to "put in the hat." And should the social worker have spoken out, knowing what she knew about the beggar?
But a genuine situation I assure you.

f77ms Sun 06-Mar-16 08:50:39

The social worker was absolutely in the wrong in my opinion. Firstly for disclosing private information about her client and secondly for telling the Mother what she should and shouldn`t do . The child was obviously safe on a moving train a few feet from the Mum !
I donate to Shelter and would prefer to do it this way but if I saw someone who looked in need, as I did just before Xmas, I would give to them.
There is a massive homeless ness problem in this country at the moment , not everyone is an alchoholic/ drug addict .
You were right to speak to the Social worker , I would have done the same .

Jayh Sun 06-Mar-16 08:51:23

Sorry, Robert, but I am not assured.

Anya Sun 06-Mar-16 08:55:05

Might have been better had the SW simply acknowledged the man, her client, with a 'hello X how are you today?'

That way the begger would have known he was recognised and moved out of that particular carriage, or indeed got off the train.

Alea Sun 06-Mar-16 08:57:18

Good plan Anya!

obieone Sun 06-Mar-16 09:31:11

Both right. Situations dont have to be either or. Why should they be? People can both be wrong. And people can both be right.
People come at things from different angles and different backgrounds, motives etc.

grumppa Sun 06-Mar-16 09:32:29

Agreed, Anya. The SW was making herself complicit with the beggar's actions.

Synonymous Sun 06-Mar-16 09:46:04

There are good reasons why begging is criminalised the primary one being protection of the innocent. Some begging is done by gangs to flush out people who would be easy targets for greater crime. Look at https// and although that is quite a bit of reading it will give much to think about. Sorry I don't know how to put the link properly on the technology I am using but that is the address on the bottom of the page.
Even in the middle ages it was recognised that begging was an unsafe practice so tokens were issued to show entitlement to beg and to ensure only those who had good grounds for begging were permitted to do so. That was before the welfare state of course so there was no other recourse except begging.
I was recently reading on an ancestry website of someone who was sentenced to hard labour for defrauding the workhouse system so clearly nothing new! In that particular case the benefits stolen by deception should have gone to someone else who needed them. It matters not that the thief thought their need was great enough to do such a thing, it was not honest.
Sadly parents have to teach their children the perils that surround us all. There have been many reported cases where begging as a profession has supported comfortable if not lavish lifestyles -again just put in begging as a profession on wiki. Many people who give to beggars have a much poorer lifestyle than those who beg.

Luckygirl Sun 06-Mar-16 09:54:52

The SW breached confidentiality - absolutely wrong.

The mother was fine to do as she did - no act of compassion is ever truly wasted.

It is so sad that we have all had to become so cynical about those seeking our help because of the realities of 21st century life.

A gift to someone begging does not come with strings attached - we cannot dictate how it is spent - we may have our concerns, but we do not know so cannot judge.

obieone Sun 06-Mar-16 10:02:49

Surely we should think it is marvellous in 21st century life that people have housing assistance, a flat and lots of assistance if they need it. Sad? Gosh no.

Anniebach Sun 06-Mar-16 10:08:30

Message deleted by Gransnet for breaking our forum guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

nightowl Sun 06-Mar-16 10:12:23

The SW was guilty of professional misconduct and could be sacked and struck off for breaching confidentiality.

All the others involved acted kindly and with good intentions. I see nothing wrong with the mother encouraging her child to interact with another adult when she was nearby. It is only in this way that children learn how to negotiate their way in the world and to keep themselves safe - not by us wrapping them in cotton wool.

nightowl Sun 06-Mar-16 10:14:06

Crossed posts Anniebach.

Elrel Sun 06-Mar-16 14:31:01

I prefer to buy the Big Issue. If somone looks in a bad way I'll get them food and drink. Crisis does a lot of good work not just at Christmas.
I was pleased when I happened, one cold night, to see the local Outreach team in the city centre giving out food and hot drinks and taking time to talk to those who came for it. A very good and realistic team who make lives a little more bearable and know whose needs are genuine although they don't refuse anyone. They advise against giving money.

The social worker, as Anya posted, could have simply greeted the man and most certainly was unprofessional in discussing her client.

Elrel Sun 06-Mar-16 14:33:19

I've often given coins to my children and grandchildren for a busker or street artist to put in their guitar case or hat.

BBbevan Sun 06-Mar-16 14:51:24

Buskers etc. Yes. Beggars. No. Advice is to give to a charity not an individual.
Did you see in the newspapers last week about the " beggar" who had an Audi TT around the corner?. Not the first time I have read something similar

phoenix Sun 06-Mar-16 14:56:05

When I often travelled to London and was having a cigarette blush just outside Paddington Station, I was once approached by a young man claiming to be homeless and asking for money. I refused, but said I would gladly go into M&S, just a few yards away and buy him a sandwich of his choice, he scuttled off at quite a speed!

Iam64 Sun 06-Mar-16 19:08:44

Sorry Robert I don't believe this is anything other than a hypothetical situation. If I'm wrong, I apologise. If true, the social worker breached confidentiality and I struggle to believe any qualified/supervised sw would behave in this way. She would have been much more likely to have spoken to the man, even if just to say hello, than to creep up to someone afterwards in the way described.

I rarely give to beggars though I do give to graffiti artists for example. I buy the big issue, though there was a recent thread suggesting Big Issue patches have been taken over by organised crime, don't know if this is true.

Iam64 Mon 07-Mar-16 08:07:10

If it is true, perhaps the 'social worker' was an unqualified support worker or volunteer, who didn't behave as she should have done.