It’s rare to walk more than a few minutes in London without someone asking for spare change.No it isn’t. I went to London three times just last week without once being accosted by a beggar. There, that cancels out your anecdote. Doesn’t it?
Many charities warn against giving money to people begging and advise, instead, to give regularly to specified charities. That approach may make sense on a macro level but, as my friend pointed out, we’re human and, faced with an individual explaining they’re in need, it’s difficult not to give.No it isn’t. It’s pretty easy. I never have trouble withholding money from the scabby druggies and alcoholics that I do see, usually (in good weather) in Southend.
It’s been a hell of a long time since I saw a beggar on the Tube, too, but I never had the slightest problem in staring them down until they moved on, with their snot-covered infant in tow.
It’s for this reason that Nottingham city council has come in for harsh criticism in the past few weeks. Around the city, adverts funded by the local authority have popped up on bins and bus stops warning people not to “give to fraud”; that homeless people are often alcoholics, drug users, or not as needy as they seem.Boo! Hiss! Bad council, bad! We'll just skip over the fact that they are right, shall we?
Framework, a charity and housing association that works to prevent homelessness in Nottingham, described the campaign as “provocative but accurate”, pointing out that many people begging in Nottingham are known to them, lead chaotic lives, and often refuse accommodation because they can make more money begging.But what do they know, eh?
But many residents point out that the campaign contributes to a growing stigma against homeless people and, coming at a time when homelessness services are being cut in Nottingham, is hypocritical and a poor use of funds.Would that be 'many residents who read the 'Guardian', then?
Not everyone who begs is a drug addict, an alcoholic, or a fraud, and even if they are, we must not lose sight of our common humanity.Wait, you've spent all that time trying to convince us that the campaign is wrong, and now you're hedging your bets, Dawn?
If I’ve had a gruelling day I’ll pour myself a glass of wine when I get back to my warm, stable home. If I were homeless, that small stab at release and happiness would be no less important, emotionally. Giving to homeless people is an act of empathy resisting the tide of opprobrium hitting them.But, Dawn, I've earned that wine. Even you've earned that wine (by dint of the fact that someone's paid you for this pile of bollocks).
See the difference?
Whereas, in respect of aggressive beggars resident by their own choice in the Jungle, we all have to fall over ourselves to divvy up straight away.
Years ago, when a city I worked in got its first highly-visible begging pair, one local journalist followed them one evening to where they parked their car (in it has to be said, quite an expensive multi-storey) and watched them drive off home. I would think if that journo worked for, say, The Groaniad, they might have been inclined to publish the first part of their observation but possibly not the second, lest anyone think th beggars were undeserving.
I have no doubt there are plenty of homeless who haven't got cars, but the last time I gave to a person on the street she did openly sneer that it was only a pound. As I say, that was the last time, so her gratitude worked well for her and her kind, didn't it?
When begged, "Spare the price of a cuppa, guv?", I offer to get them a cup of tea from the nearby cafe. Strangely, no-one has ever wanted one!
As for homeless on the streets, (certainly until the recent massive influx into London) there were always more empty beds in shelters than people sleeping rough. But the shelters have rules about drink & drug use, so many preferred to stay out rather than stay clean. The Guardian would not report this of course.
I will carry the memory of one beggar/busker for the rest of my days. Way back, during one recession or another my employer imposed one pay cut on top of another but we all still had jobs. While I could pay my mortgage and other essential bills, food was a problem and going out for a drink was nigh on impossible. One Saturday evening, quietly going stir crazy at home I scraped up enough change (back of sofa job - not begging) to afford two halves. While sipping slowly at my beer a busker/beggar turned up with a canvas bag full of money. He changed for sixty pounds most of the pound and fifty pences at the bar. He boasted that this didn't represent half of his takings. He had a job, he owned a house (in St. Albans no less) and a car, and he couldn't play any recognisable tunes on his guitar. I do not give to buskers/beggars any more.
For once I agree with JuliaM and confront yet another flaw and personal failing.
"Many charities warn against giving money to people begging and advise, instead, to give regularly to specified charities."
Such as themselves, I suppose.
"...we all have to fall over ourselves to divvy up straight away."
Not me. They can apply for asylum in France, or return to their third world hellhole. They'll get not one penny (voluntarily).
"...but the last time I gave to a person on the street she did openly sneer that it was only a pound. "
"Strangely, no-one has ever wanted one!"
I watched a young chap in builder's overalls buy a beggar outside McDonalds a meal once. As he walked away, the beggar got up and threw it in the bin... :/
"...and he couldn't play any recognisable tunes on his guitar. "
Have you noticed, they all seem to prefer to mangle 'Wonderwall' lately?
"Such as themselves, I suppose."
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