What do you do when you see a beggar ?

Watching 'The One Show' on BBC tonight it was interesting to see the article about beggars and the evidence that they do not earn a good living from begging on the streets of our towns and cities.

One of the myths put around in the late 80s and early 90s by the tabloids was that beggars earn £200-£300 a day, but that clearly is not the case. However, the programme did make me think about my own attitude to beggars, particularly in the light of the advice from homeless charities on the show who all advised people never to give money to beggars, instead telling people to but them food or as a better option, give the money to homeless charity like shelter.

My own personal attitude to beggars has been to give money to Big Issue sellers (and I don't take the magazine) because I see them as trying to make the situation better by hard work. Aside from that, I think I try to use certain things to justify my own unwillingness to give money to beggars.

In particular, I find the whole issue of beggars with dogs a complete contradiction. If you don't have enough money to feed yourself, why have a dog. If you have enough money to feed a dog, you don't need to beg. Yes, I know it offers companionship, but if you don't have the money to fed yourself, why inflict this starving and suffering on an animal ?

So what am I trying to say ? I guess I'm like most people. I don't give money to beggars and I try to justify it in my mind using my moral compass. What would I do if I were in a desperate situation ? I'd like to think I'd try my hardest through hard work to sort myself out. That said, I am lucky enough to have a family that love and care for me. Without my great upbringing, what would I have been like. I guess it's a case of "there but for the grace of God go I".

Anyone who wants to offer their views would be welcome.


jailhouselawyer said...

A problem with many Big Issue sellers is that they are heroin addicts and they buy their supply from the tips. Having said that, it is better than stealing to feed their habit.

The Half-Blood Welshman said...

I'll buy them food - particularly if it's around a mealtime or it's a cold day. I don't buy the Big Issue and I don't give them money.

That also avoids the problem JHL has noted - they don't immediately spend it on drugs, although alcohol was the big problem with the ones in Aberystwyth.

Dan said...

To quote someone:

"This homeless guy asked me for money the other day. I was about to give it to him and then I thought "he's going to use it on drugs or alcohol."
And then I thought, "that's what *I'm* going to use it on.
Why am I judging this poor bastard?""

Also, I believe a lot of homeless people have dogs for exactly the reason you state - people think "That's horrible, the poor dog can't help himself at all." and thus give more money.

Anonymous said...

The whole dogs issue is another means to garner sympathy. Dog lovers give money when they wouldn't otherwise. A real nasty con.

Sir Edward Heath said...

Surely it beggars belief that people give lectures about something they have no real knowledge or experience of.

Norfolk Blogger said...

I don't know if you are trying to use the "beggars belief" line as a quip or to make a genuine point. If it is a genuine point my article was not to spout off about beggars but to ask questions.

None of the above said...

I expect most commenters don't have a clue what they're on about. A dog is company.

When I see them, I feel like shit as I virtually never saw them in my youth and now they are in my home town. It says a very many things about us, the way we live and the success of the economic miracle of the Thatcher years. We are now a society that tolerates such things, often blames thos eindividuals for their own situation and finds excuses not to give beggars a quid.

You know I can't stand the 'middle classes'; I work with many of them, the majority of whom think they got where they are because of their 'ability'. They're some of the thickest people I've ever met, born into a fortunate situation. I've known homeless people too, mostly brighter than the comfortable pontificaters, they've just had unfortunate events in their lives, mostly.

Sir Edward Heath said...

Hear, hear. Well put, None Of The Above. I think you and I agree.