Home Politics & Debate
Ongoing maintenance - the boards are undergoing some ongoing, intermittent maintenance. Pages might load slightly slower than usual and there may be very short periods where the boards are offline.

Giving money to homeless people

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
Hiya,

Do you guys give money to homeless people?

I used to, when I was young, then at some point in my teenage years a friend pointed out (perhaps falsely) that the individual I was giving money to was probably deceiving me on that occasion.

That's always made me worry, and since then I give money to charities (Shelter and Salvation Army, though the latter less due to concerns about their inclusiveness) and pressure my MP on matters affecting that. You can probably find me foaming at the mouth about tory cuts to welfare in plenty of places.

But then when I see homeless people, I get that same old gut wrenching feeling, like a mixture of guilt, shame and pity rolled into one. So I wonder if actually giving money directly whilst overall might not change things, it could make a bigger personal impact.

On the other hand, some things don't add up - I live in Cheltenham and my councillor has told me on the last 'night walk' they only found three people sleeping rough. But walk through the town centre during the day and there are at least four or five people busking with a sleeping bag and the whole thing. Three people in a whole town seems a very low number of rough sleepers.

It's honestly hard to know what is the 'right' course of action. Any people with better insights than me would be appreciated.

Some interesting articles:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/dec/19/beggars-homelessness-drugs-thames-reach

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/dont-give-the-homeless-money-call-this-hotline-says-minister-at-charity-launch-8399590.html

http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/Bristol-s-homeless-speak-charity-urges-people/story-17620058-detail/story.html#axzz2Twwshc85

Comments

  • **helen****helen** Mod malarkist Posts: 9,235 Listening Ear
    Just wondering if this one's a bit political? :chin:

    Either way, we have an article about helping the homeless on TheSite - would be good to hear if you think it makes any sense? http://www.thesite.org/homelawandmoney/home/homelessness/helpingthehomeless

    :thumb:
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Oh it might be politics but I wasn't trying to bring a big discussion about what the government should do, but rather people on a personal level.

    It's certainly discussion though.

    I just don't know the right thing to do.

    That's a great article you've linked to, it does let the person make up their own mind but I think there's a bit of a slant towards 'dont give to beggars directly' in there, because it encourages them / doesn't help in the long run?

    I actually had a dream not too long ago about being a silly rich millionaire who set up a fully catered homeless hostel / shelter. But that's neither here nor there... I think it was inspired by The Belgariad series where the Queen opens all her palaces for the poor and the orphans to home them...
  • **helen****helen** Mod malarkist Posts: 9,235 Listening Ear
    ShyBoy wrote: »
    Oh it might be politics but I wasn't trying to bring a big discussion about what the government should do, but rather people on a personal level.

    Yep, that's political ;)

    Can leave it here for now though for a little more exposure :)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I usually give homeless people food rather than money. If I'm going to mcdonalds I give them my free cheeseburger I get with my student card.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Whenever I'm in town I always buy at least 2 things for homeless people if I'm buying things for myself. Normally it's a sausage roll from greggs, and a bone for their dog if they have one.

    Sometimes I give a sausage roll to big issue sellers as well, because I never have enough left for a big issue.

    EDIT: I sit and chat to them too. There's one I spoke to all the time, but I haven't seen him recently which is quite worrying. Hopefully he's okay.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I never give people money, but I'll buy a big issue or give food/cigarettes and stop and chat.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I don't give money, but have bought the big issue once (I know, but I usually struggle with change) and have given a few people food- anything from chocolate bars to bananas. Depends what I have just bought when I go past. I could do more, and do feel guilty when I honestly have no change or food, and am just one of those people saying "no".
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I never give money to homeless, I would not give 1p to a begger. Mostly they are looking for easy money, genuine homeless who want help can get it.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I see quite a few homeless people sadly. Not as many as when I worked in the city centre but enough to make me grateful to have a roof over my head. I tend to buy them a drink if its cold, especially if its ones I see in a particular place a lot. There was one guy that literally slept and spent most of his days down the "alley" to my staff entrance at my old job, so wasnt even in the public eye. Me and the security guard used to bring him cups of tea from work, and if we could, food from the staff canteen (although management would of given us a right bollocking if they'd found out). He always seemed so grateful, and once when I was leaving work upset, actually offered me some of his food It makes me so sad.

    Theres a fantastic thing for hot drinks for homeless people though, I know I've heard of it being active in America and I saw a sign in my local Starbucks the other day, first one I've seen in the UK though so dont know how widely its used... I'll see if I can find a link.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I give generously if they're honest. What I hate is people making up contrived stories about how they were going to see so-and-so about such-and-such and just need another 50p for their bus fare, or trying to start a conversation with the pretence that we've met before as one guy continuously does whenever I see him.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    bettyboo wrote: »
    genuine homeless who want help can get it.

    That's bollocks. What fucking world are you living in?!

    If you're a single man, and you become homeless there is virtually no hope of you getting stable housing. You are pushed to the bottom of the list time and time again behind woman and children. Not all homeless people can access help. I had a friend who was classed as homeless for 10 years before they sorted him out somewhere to live.

    Sit and have a chat with some of them. I'm not talking of the people who walk round asking for money, I'm talking the people who sit in the same place day in day out. Who you see so often they blend into the town, and you probably don't even notice them any more. There's a woman in my town who's family all died in a house fire, she was the only one who made it out. She's been utterly destroyed by it, and is scared of living in a house. She walks round with bin bags full of her the things she saved, and sleeps where ever the police don't move her from.

    People can not just "get help". The world doesn't work like that.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Cheltenham has a lot hidden homeless rather than rough sleepers, and there are a fair few people who will go to the county's one night shelter in Gloucester on a regular basis of an evening and come back during the day. I think that they alway underestimate the numbers.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Is really hard to get proper help; I work for a seasonal shelter in London, and we do what we can but a can only take 14 people a night and only for six months. Most of those who stay with us get further help but we only take people on referral and the services that refer them are hard to access as well.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    It's very hard to access help but, IME, the beggars you see in the busy streets are rarely the ones who are genuinely homeless. I have very little time for those who spend all their day approaching people for money, doubly so those who always have some cock-and-bull story about needing 50p for their dead granny's funeral.

    I do try and donate to the likes of Crisis and Centrepoint and the Railway Children. But I don't donate to street beggars.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Spliffie wrote: »
    or trying to start a conversation with the pretence that we've met before as one guy continuously does whenever I see him.

    So apart from the first time he said that to you, you have met him before :p
    (I know what you meant!)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    That's bollocks. What fucking world are you living in?!

    If you're a single man, and you become homeless there is virtually no hope of you getting stable housing. You are pushed to the bottom of the list time and time again behind woman and children. Not all homeless people can access help. I had a friend who was classed as homeless for 10 years before they sorted him out somewhere to live.

    Sit and have a chat with some of them. I'm not talking of the people who walk round asking for money, I'm talking the people who sit in the same place day in day out. Who you see so often they blend into the town, and you probably don't even notice them any more. There's a woman in my town who's family all died in a house fire, she was the only one who made it out. She's been utterly destroyed by it, and is scared of living in a house. She walks round with bin bags full of her the things she saved, and sleeps where ever the police don't move her from.

    People can not just "get help". The world doesn't work like that.

    That woman's story is awful, as you pointed out, she does not want to sleep indoors so is not seeking help in that respect.

    I agree that a single man facing no discrimination due to sex or colour will find it harder as places like stonewall etc have their own schemes.

    There's no way you would wait 10 years on the street if you were trying to do something about it, I have been homeless, I have slept in a snow covered stolen car, stairwell etc when I was younger freezing cold with one eye open and I believe if you want to get help to get off the street you will. I think the problem is people giving up and, as you point out with you story, suffering a breakdown type affair.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    He wasn't always on the street, he's a close friend and people put him up when they could but he was homeless for a long long long time. So are a lot of people. You make it sound like someone who's homeless can magically access help, get a house, and be fine. They can't.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    To play devil's advocate though, 10 years is a long time. I did find a place near me that accepts self referrals from men of any age.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    ShyBoy wrote: »
    To play devil's advocate though, 10 years is a long time.

    Yes it is. But he kept getting pushed to the bottom on the list for a house, as do many single men.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I tend to buy them a cuppa or a bottle of coke and give them whatever change I have out of that.
    I figure that if there's even a chance that they are gonna put it towards something useful I'd rather they have it than not.

    I tend not to get the Big Issue but I did give the seller outside Nottingham station today a ciggie because I had no change for one and he asked for a ciggie.
Sign In or Register to comment.