To give a homeless man a meal deal rather than the money?

(385 Posts)

There is a homeless man sat outside the Tesco Express with a little cup asking for money. Instead of giving him
Money I went inside and bought him a meal deal (crisps, ham sandwich and drink) and gave that to him. He was very polite and grateful about it and I thought nothing more of it until my friend then later accused me of being patronising by presenting him with food rather than te money.
When I lived in South Aftica I would often give food rather than money as in many cases the money went on drinks and drugs etc.
Am I being unreasonable to "control" the expenditure of this man (as put by friend) and not just give him money. I'm quite concerned now that he would have been offended, as my friend certainly thinks so!


I think you did it with the best of intentions, but it is a bit patronising. How do you know he liked coke and ham (or whatever was in the sandwich) and how do you know he hadn't already been given three sandwiches?

I sometimes buy coffee for a homeless guy, but I always ask first. Likewise, if I give money, I give it with no strings attached.

But you sound like a lovely person to have done this, and to now be worrying about what your friend thinks.

Fakebook Fri 01-Feb-13 20:43:40

Yanbu. Beggars can't be choosers. Literally. I think it was very nice of you to do that.

andubelievedthat Fri 01-Feb-13 20:44:16

well, apart from asking him it really is anyones guess/opinion, me, i think that was sweet of you and as the fella accepted it, all good, what did your opinionated cats bum faced friend donate , some bile?, some moral high ground perhaps?.

When i gave it to him i asked him whether he liked them or not and said if he didn't I would swap it. Does that count?

WorriedMummy73 Fri 01-Feb-13 20:46:36

Sounds like you can't win here op. You give money, you're funding their drink and drugs (c'mon, we all know that's all homeless people spend the money on! (sarcasm, before I get flamed). You buy food, you're being patronising and 'controlling' their choices for them. Maybe next time, completely ignore the homeless man - see what your 'friend' makes of that!

seeker Fri 01-Feb-13 20:47:44

I am torn on this one. I can see why you did it. And i am sure he qsn't offended- or if he was, he was very U. But I do think you are being U to want to "control" expenditure. You spend your money on what you want to spend it on- why shouldn't he? And if I was homeless and on the streets there might be times when I'd rather have vodka than crisps.......

Footface Fri 01-Feb-13 20:48:31

I had a family member who was homeless, food is the best thing you can give or even a night in a hostel.

Honestly anything is better than nothing

HollyBerryBush Fri 01-Feb-13 20:50:02

I never give money to beggers, regulars used to get a breakfast when I picked mine up.

One ungrateful bastard complained I forgot the sugar one morning.

I didnt bother after that.

My mate used to hand over tins of dog food - I did point out he would need a tin opener - she dutifully handed one over the following morning.

Beggers make on average, £200 a day on the streets of London if you pick the right spot.

SoWhatIfImWorkingClass Fri 01-Feb-13 20:50:25

YANBU. At all.

You did a very decent thing there. Doesn't matter whether it was food or money, it's the thought that counts.

Did your friend do anything for him?

Friend didn't, no. She's always a little embarrassed when I do.

Cakethrow Fri 01-Feb-13 20:56:19

I think you were being kind and wouldn't worry about your friend's reaction.

My brother once bought a meat feast pizza and got one free, offered it to a homeless guy who declined as he was a vegetarian. smile

coldcupoftea Fri 01-Feb-13 20:57:47

Having volunteered for a homeless charity, the fact is a large majority will spend the money on drink or drugs. If you don't agree with that, then don't give cash.

The Big Issue is a different matter- I always buy a Big Issue, the vendors are supported, and need to prove that they are clean to be allowed to sell it.

It's struck me that he could have been a vegetarian, Jew or Muslim. A crap choice of sandwich on my part!

ElectricMonk Fri 01-Feb-13 20:58:18

I don't think it was patronising or insulting - it was very thoughtful of you, and I'm sure he appreciated it. The point about controlling expenditure is irrelevant - the money being spent was yours, not his, and that fact isn't changed by the fact that you spent it on something for him.

Your question has made me think though - is it okay to buy umbrellas/plastic poncho things for homeless people when you see them sitting in the rain? I've often wished I could give things like that, and books, toothbrushes/paste, combs, mooncups/san-pro, etc (either directly or via a shelter), but I don't know if they'd be appreciated or seen as insulting. I'd really love to know the answer to this - I always add those sorts of things to food bank collections when there's somebody I can check with, but I'd like to do it more regularly without risking hurting somebody's feelings.

CloudsAndTrees Fri 01-Feb-13 21:00:39

YANBU. You offered him what you felt most comfortable with offering, he then has the choice to take it or leave it. It's not like you force fed him the bloody sandwich, and he doesn't have some kind of right to your money that you don't want to give.

feministefatale Fri 01-Feb-13 21:04:37

You can give whatever you like! What did your friend give him?
I have given food before too.

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 01-Feb-13 21:04:44

'Beggers make on average, £200 a day on the streets of London if you pick the right spot'

Where did you get that statistic from? The Daily Mail?

I think it's a good thing to give, although a little cheerless in February compared to a hot pasty and soup from Greggs for the same money if that had been an option.

Absolutely better than nothing. Even a smile is better than the usual "make no eye contact; pretend he doesn't exist" that they mostly encounter.

feministefatale Fri 01-Feb-13 21:06:54

Yeah outraged, and if that's an average doesn't that mean there are beggers out their making huge amounts more because non of the ones I see look like they are making any thing near that amount?

HollyBerryBush Fri 01-Feb-13 21:06:55

It's struck me that he could have been a vegetarian, Jew or Muslim. A crap choice of sandwich on my part!

well, lets cut to the core - if he was hungry enough he'd have eaten anything. If he was orthodox enough his church would have found him sanctuary.

Geekster Fri 01-Feb-13 21:07:39

I think it was a kind thing you did.

foreversunny Fri 01-Feb-13 21:08:50

Having volunteered with homeless people many, many times, I've yet to come across one who didn't appreciate a meal.

I think it was really lovely what you did OP.

MerylStrop Fri 01-Feb-13 21:13:58

It was kind of you to get him something decent to eat.
To get into some shelters you need to pay a few pounds, btw

I used to do the same for one man who always hung out in the car park of the grocery store, had a sign and lived in his truck that never moved. I used to give him a bag of food, I'd buy extra or buy one get one free, and in summer the kids and I used to eat ice lollies in the car and give him the extra one in the box, he was always happy to get whatever anyone gave him.

I think you were lovely OP.

I once asked a homeless man what he wanted as i walked into a co op and he said milk and biscuits so i bought it for him, then he said i bought the wrong milk (i bought full fat blue top) so i changed it to the green top milk for him.

DoItToJulia Fri 01-Feb-13 21:20:16

I have often thought about doing that. Maybe, inspired by you, I will next time.

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 01-Feb-13 21:20:51

We used to buy milk for a homeless man in Oxford when we were at university there, once they only had organic left and we gave it to him, the next time we saw him he claimed it had given him a sore stomach and asked if we could get the 'normal stuff' smile

KelleStar Fri 01-Feb-13 21:21:48

I think it's a kind thing you did. I've often bought a cup of coffee/ sandwich. A local homeless charity 'sell' tokens/vouchers for a small donation, that you can then give to homeless people to use in a hotel, includes a hot meal and a shower.

DonderandBlitzen Fri 01-Feb-13 21:22:04

I think as your friend gave him nothing at all then she doesn't get to pick holes in what you did give.

moondog Fri 01-Feb-13 21:23:18

'My mate used to hand over tins of dog food - I did point out he would need a tin opener - she dutifully handed one over the following morning.'

Holly, priceless (as are later comments re orthodoxy).

Thewhingingdefective Fri 01-Feb-13 21:24:29

You did a kind thing. Stop beating yourself up about it.

I wonder whether maybe she commented as she thought I was showing her up? She's quite sensitive. She "joked" the other day that I was going to get arrested for helping a man up the stairs with his two suitcases at the tube in case he thought I was going to steal them. As I pointed out though I'm not very big and could barely get one up the stairs let alone run off with it!

So long as I didn't offend the homeless guy I don't mind. I do hope he is a vegetarian though blush

IneedAsockamnesty Fri 01-Feb-13 21:27:32


Your friend however is rather obnoxious

moondog Fri 01-Feb-13 21:28:17

Ah The Seventh.
You have entertained us before with your amusingly improbable anecdotes have you not?
I so enjoy them.
<reaches for wine?

TheScreamingfrog Fri 01-Feb-13 21:28:20

I tried to buy food for a homeless man once but by the time I got back to him he had moved on. I saw a policeman close by. The only person to benefit was DH who ended up with the sandwich! hmm

Matildaduck Fri 01-Feb-13 21:30:31

I think that you did a lovely thing. When travelling around the world we always gave food to begging children ( they are often begging to give over the money) i would like to give food or drinks to the homeless. Yes they may usually buy drugs and buying food is definately the right thing to do.

My dd and i gave some cash to a homeless man a while ago, it's sobering when you have so much.

My dd2 feels awful walking past them shes 15 and while chatting along the street she walked over and popped a pound to a homless guy that was playing the flute. I spoke about the big issuse etc and said to buy that or a coffee for them. On talking to her about it she said that it reminds her of when we were homless ok we werent on the streets but did sleep on peoples floors for a month. That was nearly 7 years ok. She said next time she get a coffee smile

Whydobabiescry Fri 01-Feb-13 21:38:52

I think you did a very kind thing and should ignore your friend. At least that poor homeless man won't be hungry today x

She said ok she give coffee. on phone long post not my strong point

HollyBerryBush Fri 01-Feb-13 21:40:51

moondog the guy had a dog on a string - like a lot of people she had more empathjy for animals than humans.

It was retrospectively funny though - a tin of chum every morning .....

Dictionary definition of orthodox = pertaining to, or conforming to the approved form of any doctrine, philosophy, ideology, etc. ...ergo, anyone conformist woudl likely be seeking church/faith help if in need. Which negates that posters quantry about ham sandwiches

Although I am massively enjoying these stories of 'beggers' complaining about the wrong sort of milk being given to them though. If you were telling the same story about a play date the consensus would be not to invite the rude child back grin

pigletpower Fri 01-Feb-13 21:47:48

Moondog-full moon? What a shitty posthmm

claraschu Fri 01-Feb-13 21:48:44

I have told homeless people (truthfully), "I don't have any cash with me, but I'm going shopping with my credit card; would you like me to pick up something for you?" They always seem pleased, and one was vegetarian, so I was glad I asked first.

Greensleeves Fri 01-Feb-13 21:55:35

I'm sure you meant well, but no I don't think it was a particularly nice thing to do. I would have given him the money if I was in a position to give him anything at all. And frankly, sleeping rough on your own is fucking unbearable, so if my couple of quid went towards a bottle of cheap brandy or a packet of fags, I'm not judging.

If I were homeless I'd probably spend all my money on drugs and booze as well - I'm sure it would help to blot out the misery of the situation sad

OP you did a lovely thing. You are NBU at all. Your friend is a tit. If you want to help the homeless, giving to a homeless charity is the way to go, unfortunately giving hard cash to the homeless doesn't help them in the long term.

PariahHairy Fri 01-Feb-13 22:15:10

I agree boris, if I was homeless being pissed out of my mind would probably take the sting out of sleeping in a doorway in the depth of winter. I give money to homeless people if I can afford it.

I can just imagine all these worthy people proffering sandwiches and coffee, the going home to a lovely warm house to enjoy their morally superior posh wine.

Greensleeves Fri 01-Feb-13 22:15:35

"doesn't help them in the long term" - well, you don't know that. Turning points in people's lives come in many different forms.

but IMO helping somebody get through another horrible cold night is worth doing in itself. Helping the in the short term. Better than nothing.

sukysue Fri 01-Feb-13 22:15:38

Good for you op. I would do the same it;s your money you can do what u like with it if he didn't want the food he could refuse it. Did this friend who accused you of being patronising give him anything or gives anything to any one else?

PessaryPam Fri 01-Feb-13 22:16:40

I think you did the right thing. If he was hungry it was what he needed.

Greensleeves Fri 01-Feb-13 22:18:15

yes, he could have refused it. How do you think it would have made him feel?

the more I think about this the more it pisses me off actually. It says to the recipient "I do feel sorry for you, but you've obviously failed at life so I don't trust you to decide how to spend a couple of measly quid responsibly"

feministefatale Fri 01-Feb-13 22:20:42

Greensleeves how is keeping someone fed not helping them get through the night?

It might be patronizing in your eyes, but many people are on the streets due to addiction and or MH issues. Do you want to contribute to someone's choice to buy alcohol or drugs that could eventually kill them...or a sandwich that will do more to keep them warm through the night.

Greensleeves Fri 01-Feb-13 22:23:34

I think it's abhorrent to assume that because somebody is homeless they are probably on drugs and incapable of spending your precious loose change sensibly.

Do't be surprised if the next lucky winner of your benevolence tells you to stick it where the monkey sticks his nuts. I would. What would you rather have, full human adult status and respect, or a ham sandwich?

magimedi Fri 01-Feb-13 22:25:47


You gave.

You did not walk past & ignore him.

You gave him food so he would not go hungry.

Good on you.

feministefatale Fri 01-Feb-13 22:29:26

Well that depends on how hungry I was green.

loachey Fri 01-Feb-13 22:30:57

The "homeless" man who used to sit outside the SPAR shop begging all day/night used to come in at about 3am and charge his electric key with all the money he'd made. So unfortunately I have become a bit cynical about who is truly homeless and who isn't. I think if I thought he was truly homeless, I would still give a coffee and food and I think something is better than nothing. And you never know, they might not actually collect enough that day to buy a sandwich and coffee anyway.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 01-Feb-13 22:32:09

It was intended as a kind gesture and seems to have been taken as such, but I wouldnt do it, on the basis that I wouldn't want to be paid my wages in food vouchers, or paint because the bathroom needs doing, or shoes for my kids.

Greensleeves Fri 01-Feb-13 22:34:00

There's a homeless woman near me (there are many, but this is an example) who spends hours sitting on a concrete floor on the subway playing the penny whistle for money. She is feeding her heroin habit. If she doesn't make enough money, she's back there in the evening soliciting.

Unless you're offering a bed, clean clothes, counselling and a supported route into secure employment, you don't get to judge, so don't fuck people about by handing out sandwiches just to give yourself a warm feeling.

frustratedashell Fri 01-Feb-13 22:36:16

I do this now and then. Its always been gratefully received. I dont think its patronising to try to help someone. And yes they do sometimes spend money on drugs. I used to know someone who worked with the homeless, he said never give them money for that reason. Im happy to help someone but not by helping them buy drugs. If that offends some people then Im sorry!

flow4 Fri 01-Feb-13 22:37:13

There was a feature on the radio this morning about a voucher scheme, where people can 'buy' food vouchers from a charity, to give to homeless people instead of cash. The vouchers can then be exchanged for a meal at the local soup kitchen. There used to be a few of these schemes around the country, but they seem to have become less common - I bet there'll be a renaissance soon. sad

I spoke to the housing/social care manager who has the lead (in our local authority) on support for people with complex needs, including homeless people with drug/alcohol problems. She advises against cash donations and says food donations are preferable.

frustratedashell Fri 01-Feb-13 22:37:39

I really dont understand your attitude Greensleeves

NotSoNervous Fri 01-Feb-13 22:37:41

YANBU it's a lovely thing you've done and you've made sure he has food inside of him

seeker Fri 01-Feb-13 22:38:45

Well, I sometimes spend my money on Sauvignon blanc- I did tonight actually. Why should a homeless person have that freedom taken away as well as everything else?

Monty27 Fri 01-Feb-13 22:40:58

A guy used to sit outside a supermarket I used to shop in. When he'd ask for money I'd say I didn't have any cash but would ask him if I could get him anything in the shop.

Many packets of biscuits and ice lollies later..... smile

He was very pleasant so I'd get him it.

Greensleeves Fri 01-Feb-13 22:41:22

I do donate to the food bank as well and have done to the local homeless shelter, I am not saying "only ever give money to people in need"

What I am objecting to is OP's example of seeing man collecting money, going into a shop and buying a ham sandwich to give him instead. I find it demeaning and I think it is based on half-baked assumptions that insult homeless people as a group.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 01-Feb-13 22:43:20

Unless you're offering a bed, clean clothes, counselling and a supported route into secure employment, you don't get to judge, so don't fuck people about by handing out sandwiches just to give yourself a warm feeling

Yes. This is what I've been groping towards. Spot on.

PessaryPam Fri 01-Feb-13 22:44:27

The OP was really nice Greensleeves because I would have not given the begging chap anything. So point your vitriol at me, not her.

frustratedashell Fri 01-Feb-13 22:44:46

why is it demeaning to give him a sandwich? Surely the demeaning bit is him having to sit there begging for money.

PessaryPam Fri 01-Feb-13 22:45:23

And to you too TheOriginalSteamingNit lets just ignore the fuckers.

Greensleeves Fri 01-Feb-13 22:45:37

Thanks for the stage directions Pessary, but I think I'll carry on making my own choices, if it's all the same to you.

2mummies Fri 01-Feb-13 22:46:03

Horrible how thing turn nasty so quickly round on sometimes! hmm

My ex/good friend was homeless years ago, in the winter, and an elderly gentleman asked her what she would like for Christmas, she said some warmer socks. The next day he gave her some lovely thick cosy socks. It restored her faith in humanity. To be fair, had he given her the money equivalent, it is likely it would have been spent on pot, but the socks were much more appreciated.

I think the OP did a good thing. How would 'the homeless' feel if they knew we were sitting in our nice warm homes, with our full tummies and our wine, discussing the etiquette of what to give. FFS, if you're kind enough/fortunate to want to/be able to give, then give whatever feels right.

They could probably trade their meal deal for something less legal anyway if that's what they wanted.

ifancyashandy Fri 01-Feb-13 22:46:30

Last week, when it was bitterly cold and sleeting, I gave a woman the money in my purse. It was coins. I felt bad I couldn't give her more as a)she'd just told me the cashpoint wasn't working and b) it was just soooo cold and I really felt for her living on the streets in that weather (although I don't disregard how bloody wretched it can / must be at any time if year, obviously). I then went to a shop with a working cashpoint to be told by the guy sitting outside that the cashpoint was inside. I had no cash left to give him. Although I didn't feel money was his motivation for telling me IYSWIM? Not that it would have made any difference. Christ, tying self in PCM knots here

I bought him a coffee and a cheese pastie thing - I wanted to give him something warm - but felt I had to apologise for not giving him cash. He neither looked at me as if I were mad nor looked at me with distain. He just said thank you.

I think it's easy to over think these things. Homeless people are exactly that - people. All kindness is lovely to all.

seeker Fri 01-Feb-13 22:48:02

What's demeaning is saying "you are not a fully functioning adult- I will decide for you what is good for you. Here, take this sandwich and be suitably grateful."

BoffinMum Fri 01-Feb-13 22:48:03

I always give food, having sat on the board of a housing charity.

Greensleeves Fri 01-Feb-13 22:49:02

I think that's a bad choice, having sat on freezing concrete in the pissing rain with no money and nowhere to go

tethersend Fri 01-Feb-13 22:50:19


Read Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell.

LondonNinja Fri 01-Feb-13 22:50:31

Unbelievable judgmental claptrap from people judging the OP. So, unless she can offer a clean bed, counselling and all that stuff we all have to hand, she shouldn't have bothered?! How dare anyone judge another's motives like this? She may be doing the best she can - not everyone who gives food and/or cash is loaded or effing 'superior'. At least she's doing something rather than watch, like her friend. Christ.

frustratedashell Fri 01-Feb-13 22:51:13

Seeker that thought would never enter my head! Its not the motivation for giving. The motivation is trying to help someone and yes it does give me a warm glow. But thats very much a secondary thing. I would be curious to know if the homeless person would feel that it was demeaning or patronising

2mummies Fri 01-Feb-13 22:51:50

Was supposed to say 'round here' at the beginning (as in on mumsnet).

And I went off course... What I was getting at was... Whilst we're all here discussing the etiquette of it, there's thousands of cold hungry people out there who'd just love a ham sandwich given to them by a thoughtful person. Though obviously cheese is a safer bet wink unless they're dairy intolerant...

PessaryPam Fri 01-Feb-13 22:52:21

Well I think its sad that someone tries to do a good turn and then is castigated for it. TBH it's easier to just not bother. Is that what you self righteous fuckers want?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 01-Feb-13 22:52:41

I don't think we should ignore the fuckers! I give them a quid, usually. Not the best, but they usually seem pleased. And there are more and more of them all the time. Cheers, gideon!

Greensleeves Fri 01-Feb-13 22:53:37

"how dare anyone judge another's motives"

a) well.... I dare because OP has posted "AIBU to give a homeless man a meal deal rather than the money", in the AIBU section of a discussion forum

b) do you see the irony of your question? Heaven forbid anyone should consider another person's motives or judge the choices they make. Oh, wait....hmm

seeker Fri 01-Feb-13 22:54:42

Well, the OP did ask. Or did she only ask so that everyone could tell her how wonderful she is? Well, plenty of people did, so that's all right.

BoffinMum Fri 01-Feb-13 22:55:34

If you see someone who you think needs something, and you give some thought to what they might need and give it to them, then this is a good thing. They can always decline.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 01-Feb-13 22:55:38

As I say,.. I think it was intended as a kind gesture and was taken as such. I just wouldn't do it.

You could be homeless and really hate ham, for a start! Or don't you get the luxury of such choices?

Snazzynewyear Fri 01-Feb-13 22:56:48

Don't get the voucher for free meal in soup kitchen thing. Wouldn't it be free anyway?

LondonNinja Fri 01-Feb-13 22:57:54

Oh dear. If people want to give money, fine. If they wish to give food, fine. What has it got to do with you?

OP, YANBU. Give what you see fit, with the right intentions. Ignore the people who claim they know what homeless people really want. Sometimes you'll get it wrong, sometimes right. But at least you give a shit.

maddening Fri 01-Feb-13 22:58:10

The op isn't saying anything - he is begging - she has offered him a gift and he has accepted it - as an equal human being he could have declined it.

Greensleeves Fri 01-Feb-13 22:58:27

Oh, OK then BoffinMum. Understood.

<<hands BoffinMum a tube of facial hair remover and a can of Odour Eater>>

<<waits for grateful response>>

can you not see how this might be a patronizing thing to do? Because somebody is homeless, they need to have decisions made for them by strangers that we all make for ourselves.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 01-Feb-13 23:00:17

Yeah, the good thing about money though is if you want to use it to buy a ham sandwich from the conveniently situated tesco, you can. If you want to buy some cider with it, same goes. If you want to save it, you can. As with teenage nieces at Christmas, so with the homeless: you can't go wrong with cash!

millie30 Fri 01-Feb-13 23:00:40

The man wasn't asking for food, he was asking for money. The very act of getting him something else does imply that he isn't capable of making his own choices and that you know what is best for him IMO.

PessaryPam Fri 01-Feb-13 23:00:40

Green he could have declined.

PessaryPam Fri 01-Feb-13 23:01:34

FFS just give the guy a 2lt bottle of cheapo cider. Everyone will be happy.

diddl Fri 01-Feb-13 23:01:41

How is giving money any less patronising?

They bloody begging FFS!

flow4 Fri 01-Feb-13 23:01:58

seeker, I do take the point about giving homeless people some dignity through allowing them freedom to choose what they buy... But I think it hinges on whether you think of drug/alcohol misuse as a choice or an illness/unhealthy dependency...

If you think drug/alcohol misuse is a choice, then you're right: why should a homeless person have less choice than you or me?

But if you think of it as an illness or unhealthy dependency, then the issue is different: giving cash to someone with a dependency is then more like giving sugar to a diabetic, or E-numbers to a child with ADHD, or indeed rotten food to someone who is too hungry to care about salmonella.

And no snazzy, in our area soup kitchens are not free - they make a small charge - because the charities that run them recognise that some of the people using them are spending money on drugs rather than food, and that charitable funds are therefore paying for those drugs.

Greensleeves Fri 01-Feb-13 23:02:14

The act of buying something worthy with the money and handing it over is an expression of distrust in the homeless person's ability to make the right choice for himself. It's infantilising. And not something done by anyone who has a clue what real poverty is like (sitting on committees notwithstanding) hmm

maddening Fri 01-Feb-13 23:02:39

I have been offered food by friends in a non begging situation and have declined it either on fussy grounds or vegetarian grounds or due to not being hungry etc - he has the same decision to accept or decline - the op did not force a ham sandwich on him or insist he act in any way grateful - it was a no strings attached gift of food - he can say no thanks.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 01-Feb-13 23:02:59

They're begging for money though!

Is it not a little patronizing to assume someone homeless is less capable of understanding the intentions behind the OP's gesture than we are?

Even if the bloke wanted money, I imagine he realizes that the OP has seen him, seen he's homeless, and wanted to give him something basic and important - food.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 01-Feb-13 23:04:01

And If they want to make a bad choice about what to do with that money, that is their choice, just as it is for me with mine.

diddl Fri 01-Feb-13 23:04:10

Yes-well you don´t always get what you want!

OP-just don´t bother another time!

PessaryPam Fri 01-Feb-13 23:05:44

diddl, yes, otherwise you open up a world of painful middle class angst.

Greensleeves Fri 01-Feb-13 23:06:01

And it isn't OK to assume that because somebody is homeless they must be drug-dependent and incapable of making good choices. How do you think that assumption makes people feel? On top of being homeless, they're also less-than-adult by default.

It would need to be one fucker of a ham sandwich to be worth all that. Homeless people are people, not hungry dogs. You don't get to throw them a crust and go home and get patted on the back. Not if you post about it in AIBU anyway.

PessaryPam Fri 01-Feb-13 23:07:21

So Green what are we supposed to do?

DeepRedBetty Fri 01-Feb-13 23:08:43

Sadly even 'free' meals at soup kitchens rely on the generosity of volunteers, fund-raisers and (some) food suppliers, the charity sells the tickets as a means of fundraising - I doubt they'd turn away a person clearly in need if they arrived without a voucher.

garlicblocks Fri 01-Feb-13 23:09:19

grin Greensleeves.

Back in the '80s my employer gave generous Luncheon Vouchers (it was a nationwide scheme - you could spend them in restaurants, takeaways, sandwich shops) and a generous expense account, too. As we didn't really need all the LVs we used to give them to homeless people: we were in the West End; there were a lot. They were always very well received - mind you, we weren't choosing their lunch for them. I do think that was a bit presumptive. I bet if you asked in the shop, they'd have written out a receipt for him to bring in smile

Greensleeves Fri 01-Feb-13 23:11:51

IMO PP, since you ask, if somebody is asking for money then you should either give him what you can afford or not give him anything. You could even talk to him. If you were shopping by card you could ask him what he would like. Generally treating him like another person really, not a child, or an animal, or some sort of peformance artist you can join in with.

I did give someone one of my penny whistles once. But he was really good and taught me a new tune.

Greensleeves Fri 01-Feb-13 23:13:18

I think the luncheon vouchers are different. You already had those and of course it makes sense to pass them on if you don't need them. Not the same as going into the shop and choosing a nice worthy lunch for someone who is asking for change outside.

PessaryPam Fri 01-Feb-13 23:15:11

Green well that's wonderful and exactly what I already do.

Angelico Fri 01-Feb-13 23:17:12

You did a nice thing OP. Enjoy the warm glow. For every hundred people who walked past that man 99 of them probably gave him fuck all. So you were not being unreasonable.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 01-Feb-13 23:17:32

Who wants their salary paid to them as a Sainsburys delivery of food for the month - no fags or booze obv - and some primark vouchers for clothes?

garlicblocks Fri 01-Feb-13 23:18:09

No, not the same. It's the same as "If you were shopping by card you could ask him what he would like."

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 01-Feb-13 23:18:25

Anyway: clearly kindly meant, but since you ask, I'd give a quid or two rather than a sandwich.

Greensleeves Fri 01-Feb-13 23:18:39

If this hadn't been in AIBU and worded the way it is (the thread title) I wouldn't have responded so emphatically BTW. But this isn't a support thread, or a self-congratulatory feel-good thread. And it is something I have strong views/feelings about.

I do rather resent the implication that I shouldn't answer frankly because OP did a lovely thing in good faith and I might upset her. She posted asking for a debate about it - we've provided one, and without any personal attacks.

Branleuse Fri 01-Feb-13 23:20:58

if he's hanging around begging for money, then he's asking to be patronised . It sounds like he was glad of the food and it was good of you to give it.
no issue x

I think it is a lovely thing you did OP smile it is something I have done to an extent in the past.

I think that the entire situation is demeaning from the homeless man needing to sit, dirty, hungry and whatnot and beg strangers for the being ignored by most and getting given pennies by others... He is sat on a cold floor, wet through to his skin, hungry, possibly hung over/coming down off a drug, most likely cold right into his bones... Whether or not a sandwich, drink and bag of crisps is the best choice here shouldn't even be a debate as ANYTHING Is better than nothing. If I were homeless on the streets, having to poo in an entryway, starved and thin, being ignored or jeered at, spat at or assaulted, being treated as less than human by strangers in the street I doubt very much, if a person bought me a ham sandwich, drink and bag of crisps, the first thought out of my head would be "cheeky bastard...what about my right to choose my own demeaning" hmm

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 01-Feb-13 23:27:44

He's asking to be patronised?

Greensleeves Fri 01-Feb-13 23:28:51

I find it a bizarre argument that because somebody is clearly already at a low ebb, it is OK to treat them as less than fully adult. And I don't think it follows that somebody who is homeless and going through hell no longer feels humiliated or insulted by gestures which betray assumptions about their competence.

There is just no need for it. It is middle class smuggery and it has no place. Either give the poor fucker what he is asking for, or trot on. Don't use him to give yourself a nice rosy glow and something to tell your friends.

grovel Fri 01-Feb-13 23:32:12

Greensleeves, fine.

And I think your posts smack of revolting smugness. You know best and we should do what you do or nothing at all.

TranceDaemon Fri 01-Feb-13 23:32:28

When it was snowing recently there was a man sitting outside my local Costa, wrapped in a thin blanket, clearly freezing. I had no cash but was going in so bought him a coffee and muffin and took them out to him.

Not to patronise him, but because I wanted to help him.

Seeing as I had no shelter, hard cash or a job to offer it was the best I had.

Should I have walked past and ignored him then?

Greensleeves Fri 01-Feb-13 23:33:49

Everyone who posts an opinion on AIBU "knows best" fgs. It's a forum for debating opinions. It seems to be you who wants to stop people from posting against the majority opinion on this thread. But you can't I'm afraid.

flow4 Fri 01-Feb-13 23:37:58

Here's a report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that gives a very good insight into homelessness and the issues facing homeless people. 70% of homeless people with complex needs have a substance misuse problem. 63% say they drink 6 or more alcoholic drinks per day. The figures are higher for rough sleepers.

I don't see this kind of drug/alcohol misuse as a lifestyle choice; I see it as a problem at best, and a tragedy for many. The substance misuse is a cause of many people's homelessness, and factor that makes admission to hospital, and psychiatric hospital more likely, and prison, and being a victim of crime or domestic violence, and self-harming, and prostitution, and a whole host of other problems...

I don't think it's treating people as 'less human' to give food rather than cash; I think it's reasonable not to want to risk contributing further to all these potential problems.

I do think that asking what someone would like to eat is a better option... And I bet the OP will do that next time. smile

I have worked in homelessness for years. Here's my take. I sometimes give food, if I have a sandwich or something about my person. I ask if they want it first. I sometimes give money, if I have a bit of change on me. I sometimes give a smile and an 'I'm sorry' if I can't or have given a lot that week.

I also know the people who are begging a lot of the time. I won't give money to people I know have ODed recently. However, I do give money to other people who use drugs and alcohol. I don't see why I should use some of my money for alcohol but deny them that.

The severely addicted will get the money for drugs and alcohol. It may be prostituting, it may be robbing and selling, it may be dealing, it may be begging, they will find the cash. I'd rather give them cash than have them have to do things that are worse.

grovel Fri 01-Feb-13 23:39:22

Greensleeves, I agree. That's why I gave my opinion of your post Get it?

"There is just no need for it. It is middle class smuggery and it has no place. Either give the poor fucker what he is asking for, or trot on. Don't use him to give yourself a nice rosy glow and something to tell your friends." Lovely.

Greensleeves Fri 01-Feb-13 23:42:03

I "get it". I'm not getting into a game of ping pong with the likes of you.

Mrs TerryPratchett, in the OP's situation, would you have given money, given nothing, asked what he would like from the shop, or gone in and bought a ham sarnie and a Coke? Not a trick question; I'm genuinely interested, as you have extensive experience.

AgnesBligg Fri 01-Feb-13 23:42:03

I think homeless charities have for a long while now asked people not to donate to individuals, but to support homeless charities themselves. They can support people in getting food, accommodation short term and Long, benefits, and help in independent living skills.

A lot refuse this help, unless it's really cold outside. But there are outreach workers who will be aware of the people the OP has encountered for example.

OP you were kind and I'm very sure your lunch was much appreciated. Cash donated will be spent on booze.

flow4 Fri 01-Feb-13 23:43:11

MrsTP - "I'd rather give them cash than have them have to do things that are worse." < This is a good point...

Dominodonkey Fri 01-Feb-13 23:43:32

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anonymosity Fri 01-Feb-13 23:43:34

YANBU your friend is.

Greensleeves Fri 01-Feb-13 23:44:45

It is a good point. I made it myself earlier in the thread grin

Agnes, I sometimes spend money on booze. Should I have a well-meaning benefactor come and do my shopping for me? Or do we buy the right to control someone's choices when we commit a small sum of money to them?

Dominodonkey Fri 01-Feb-13 23:46:01

"Agnes, I sometimes spend money on booze." And did you beg for that money on the street? If not and you earnt it then it is completely different.

Couldn't agree more DominoDonkey

Greensleeves Fri 01-Feb-13 23:47:10

Why is it different? Do you think you are buying the right of authority over somebody when you give them a few measly quid?

Horrible attitude.

flow4 Fri 01-Feb-13 23:47:33

I missed it then Green, sorry - it's a fast-moving thread! grin

Dominodonkey Fri 01-Feb-13 23:48:02

No I don't Greensleeves - that is why i won't give it.

Am happy to give to a charity though.

I think since he was outside the shop, I might have asked. Like, "I've got a couple of quid, do you want the cash or a sarnie, since I'm going in anyway". Realistically, I have only given food recently when I've have a spare sandwich on me (2 for 1 or whatever). I am assuming I would know him or know of him (if it was around here) so I would know if he was going to get dangerously messed up. Then it would be food. Incidentally, often sweet food is good. Great for opiate addicts.

flow4 Fri 01-Feb-13 23:50:13

Green - "do we buy the right to control someone's choices when we commit a small sum of money to them?" < I think I see the drugs/alcohol themselves as "controlling the person's choices", rather than someone who buys a sandwich.

This is a good article about addiction and how people perceive addicts. Very interesting.

X posted there...TBH I think the homeless person earns every penny they manage to collect...

Greensleeves Fri 01-Feb-13 23:52:36

But how do you KNOW that flow? You don't know the person is alcoholic or drug-dependent. You don't know anything about him, except the fact that he hasn't got any money.

Thanks MrsTP, that's food for thought x

littleducks Fri 01-Feb-13 23:57:15

I bought a sandwich for a homeless man recently.

He was outside Pret (central london). I asked if he wanted anything, he said he'd just had a drink. I said what about food and he said he wanted a particular type of hot sandwich but they were expensive and was I sure.

I ordered him the sandwich, the staff seemed pretty used to taking him out coffees etc. I told him I had ordered it and to chase them if they didnt bring it out. I then said 'have a nice day' and felt like a complete prat blush and that I had probably hadnt achieved anything nice at all.

I would have bought him anything he wanted in the shop and gave him free choice. I dont like to give money to end up spent on drugs or alcohol, I buy neither myself. I hope I wasnt being controlling, I was trying to be nice.

flow4 Fri 01-Feb-13 23:58:06

No, you're quite right I don't Green, and nor would I assume... But since 70%+ of people begging do have substance misuse problems, it's a 'balance of probabilities' thing... It doesn't seem wrong to me to give food - it seems like a reasonable thing to do if you want to do something, you don't know the individual, and you don't want to risk contributing to a problem...

AgnesBligg Fri 01-Feb-13 23:58:56

Greensleeves, anyone who wants booze finds the means to obtain it (myself included).

The OP bought lunch. That was a nice thing to do. (He/she, person outside tesco will get some booze somehow regardless of OP's actions.)

tethersend Sat 02-Feb-13 00:16:59

"If they are begging they are making themselves a charity case, I work very hard for all my money and the thought that it would be spent on drugs or alcohol is abhorrent to me. So for me (and many others) it is food or nothing."

Don't worry, Domino- once you give money to someone else, it ceases to be your money. So, as long as you don't visit the offy or the crack house on the way back from the office, there is no chance at all that your money will be spent on booze or drugs, regardless of who you have given it to. hey presto! Problem solved.

Greensleeves Sat 02-Feb-13 00:20:44

well said tethersend

I think: at least Domino is being fairly straightforward about her snobbish disdain for homeless people

That is marginally better than the hand-wringing Princess Diana types with their benevolence and smugness. Which masks exactly the same principle.

Signet2012 Sat 02-Feb-13 00:24:38

I always give change of a few pounds. Ok not bothered if they spend it on drink really. I would only waste it on chocolate so I see no difference in them wasting it on drink.

Dominodonkey Sat 02-Feb-13 00:25:47

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brighthair Sat 02-Feb-13 00:27:35

I would have done the same. The only exception was when I saw a homeless man aged about 70 going through the bins for food sad
I (naively or not) bought him food and gave him £20 which he didn't know where to put so he tucked it in his shoe

Sariah Sat 02-Feb-13 00:29:53

I invited friends over for dinner last week. I served them a meal. I did not ask them what they wanted I did not offer them money in case they wanted something else instead. There is no right or wrong just personal preference. If I want to give a homeless person a book, a sandwich, or a couple of quid then I offer and they accept or decline. Most homeless people to get into that situation must have some issues with self care and looking after their physical needs. If you have a drink or drug addiction then you will choose the addiction over food. If someone hands you food then you are more likely to eat it and that is a good thing. I give my teenage children voucher for xmas cause if I gave them cash they would spend it on drink and I want them to buy clothes. I am not treating them as subhuman but I dont want them drinking my hard earned cash. If my husband cooks dinner I eat it. I go to a friends house and they offer me food I eat it. I never feel demeaned by the offer of food. I like to feed people and be fed. So therefore I can see what is wrong with offering someone who is struggling to look after their own basic needs the most basic of things, food.

Greensleeves Sat 02-Feb-13 00:30:41

I think OP should have given him the money rather than spend it and give him the result. Or if shopping by card, ask him what he would like from the shop <<deja vu....sure I said this upthread>>

Or... I am a monster who likes watching people starve to death on the streets. hmm

Dominodonkey Sat 02-Feb-13 00:33:01

greensleeves but you said the OP should not have given him food and that no-one else should give food. Since many people will not give money for the reasons stated above (which we are perfectly entitled to) you in effect want to deny the man food. Can you not see that?

Dominodonkey Sat 02-Feb-13 00:34:26

Perhaps the answer is to give money to a homeless charity? - but that does not help the person in front of you who is hungry.

grovel Sat 02-Feb-13 00:34:36

Funnily enough, I only ever give cash but greensleeves has condemned me without knowing that.

tethersend Sat 02-Feb-13 00:35:00

"So if you give your money to UNICEF it's fine if they spend it on designer clothes for their managers is it?"

They might already do. They pay the managers' wages- some of the managers may wish to spend the money on designer clothes.

If I disagreed with how a charity was spending its money, I'd stop donating. I wouldn't ask for my money back or tell them what they were to spend my tenner on.

Give or don't give; that's your choice. But if you choose to give, the money is no longer yours and you cease to have a say in how it's spent.

"I hope none of you ever comment on what the government spend then. It's not your money anymore"

The way we as voters 'comment' on how a government spends its money is through the democratic process. If we disagree with how money is spent, we elect a different government. We don't start trying to pay our council tax with tarmac because we prefer having the roads flattened to funding the local library.

Greensleeves Sat 02-Feb-13 00:36:21

I can see the point you are trying to score, yes, but it is illogical and I am not going to be browbeaten into accepting it grin

The inflexibility in that scenario lies with the people who are making such concrete and prejudiced value judgements about a homeless person they know nothing about that they refuse to trust them with the money rather than making a purchasing choice for them. You're happy to part with the money, but only on your terms, based on your prejudice and ignorance. Not OK.

Greensleeves Sat 02-Feb-13 00:37:09

I don't recall condemning you personally. I did refuse to enter into a ping-pong match with you though.

tethersend Sat 02-Feb-13 00:40:32

I only ever give Tennent's Extra as I'm worried they might spend my money on sandwiches. Or even wraps.

AgnesBligg Sat 02-Feb-13 00:40:59

Greensleeves Sat 02-Feb-13 00:30:41
I think OP should have given him the money.

The OP was under no obligation to give money. OP saw someone outside a sandwich shop and bought him/her a sandwich.

She wasn't obligated to give him/her FUCK ALL bangs head against t'web WALL.

Dominodonkey Sat 02-Feb-13 00:41:27

greensleeves Do you honestly think that the majority of people on the street are likely to make a useful choice with their money?
Or do you just think that they should have the right to spend it as they wish?

tether "But if you choose to give, the money is no longer yours and you cease to have a say in how it's spent" I agree to some extent but that just means that people won't give money and since you and green think that giving food is unacceptable they will get sod all. Don't see how that is a good outcome.

grovel Sat 02-Feb-13 00:43:36

Domino, you're playing ping pong. Verboten.

Dominodonkey Sat 02-Feb-13 00:43:43

Greensleeves -"I don't recall condemning you personally."

You said I have a 'snobbish disdain for homeless people' - I think that's pretty condemnatory.

Greensleeves Sat 02-Feb-13 00:44:27

I didn't say she was obliged to give him anything. The thread isn't about the morality of giving nothing. It's about being happy to part with the money, but deciding to choose something worthy to buy with it, because you can't let the homeless person make their own choice. This is not a difficult concept <facepalm>

Yes Domino, as I have repeatedly posted I think he should be allowed to spend it as he chooses. He's an adult, not a hungry dog. If I give, I give - I'm not buying authority over that person or a stake in his choices. For a few quid.

Greensleeves Sat 02-Feb-13 00:46:09

That post was addressed to grovel, Domino, as she had posted "greensleeves has condemned me".

Yes, your posts show a snobbish disdain for people less fortunate than yourself, and a high level of prejudice. Lets hope you and yours never fall through the net and end up on the street.

MichelleRooJnr Sat 02-Feb-13 00:47:01

Many of the homeless people I work with are homeless because they have 'burnt their bridges' with local authority housing by accruing rent arrears.

They are staying in shelters or on 'crash pads' while making small weekly payments to allow them back into the housing pool.

They get given free/subsidised meals at the hostels and beg to help make extra money to pay their arrears.

They often tell me it's difficult when people kindly give them food instead of cash as they have eaten and actually really need the money, so they end up sometimes selling the sandwich/biscuits to add to their repayment pot.

It's not people being ungrateful, it's them leaving their dignity in the shelter while they try their hardest to make the payments that will make the council/ housing association consider them houseable again.

Dominodonkey Sat 02-Feb-13 00:47:37

We will definitely have to agree to disagree on this one.

Without being too cheesy, surely what is good is that everyone on this thread actually gives a toss. No one said YABU the homeless should be ignored entirely.

While we are on the subject, one of my bugbears is people giving soap, clean socks and deodorant and 'Christmas presents' to homeless people. Yes, self care items are great but give them in March or November. Give actual presents at Christmas. I see the guys opening them and I think 'this present means, you smell and I'll use Christmas to tell you that'. A chocolate orange, a book voucher, a nice piece of clothing.

tethersend Sat 02-Feb-13 00:49:29

If people who would otherwise have given food give nothing, it is not our views which have denied the homeless person a meal- it's them.

Give or don't give.

But give.

Give or don't give.

But give.

I'm stealing that for a shelter campaign if anyone ever gives me the money to start one of my own! smile

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Sat 02-Feb-13 00:51:39

Peace and love

Mosman Sat 02-Feb-13 00:57:37

I bought one guy a bottle of whiskey and 20 fags at Christmas figured he'd be Mr popular with his friends if nothing else.

SoggySummer Sat 02-Feb-13 00:58:53

Perhaps he wanted a sandwich - being he was sat outside of a sandwich shop.

Perhaps if he had been sat outside of Bargain Booze someone may have bought him a bottle.

Perhaps because he had a sandwich and some crisps today he can spend more of the money he has collected on whatever else takes his fancy.

He could have refused it. No one forced him to take it.

I think its stupid to say that unless you can turn these peoples lives around with counselling, a permanent address, bed, a job etc etc then its pointless giving at all.

Thing is... I'm a believer in giving what I can when I can and if I can give a meal to a person who is going hungry then I will try my best to. I don't give money as I feel that i would be contributing to supporting habits that have been a likely major influence on the life choices that brought them into a homeless life.

I gauge what I give on what I would appreciate receiving if I were to be in their my wants would be likely to change quite a bit if I was actually homeless but I can only guess how I would feel as I have never been in that position.

I don't see that as smug as it is only too easy for one choice to cascade into a huge number of bad choices ending in tragic circumstances and that can certainly happen to any one of us. IMO it is smug to sit and berate another persons kindness simply because the kind deed is not as politically correct, or doesn't consider the wealth of human rights of the individual, or whatever the reason...a kind deed can be pure and simply kindness offered to others in need regardless of what the gift is...

Greensleeves Sat 02-Feb-13 01:01:14

Nobody did say that SoggySummer confused

The point you misunderstood there was that unless you are offering all of the tools needed to lift the person out of poverty, you shouldn't be judging what they spend their money on, and you shouldn't be making assumptions based on prejudice. If you're happy to part with £3, give the person £3 and let him exercise control over what he uses it for. Not "give nothing".

Mosman I bet you were Ms Popular.

LittleChimneyDroppings Sat 02-Feb-13 01:11:41

Jeez, op what you did was fine. You didn't actually have to give him anything, you chose to give him a meal, he accepted it. It's fine. Contrary to popular belief, you didn't need to go and give him a menu and ask him to choose from it, nor did you have to give him money if you preferred to give him some food instead. End of.

Greensleeves Sat 02-Feb-13 01:13:03

LOL at "end of"

That's not really how it works I'm afraid.

Greensleeves Sat 02-Feb-13 01:13:36

Unless you just meant "End of" your post?

In which case that's fine

FreePeaceSweet Sat 02-Feb-13 01:19:29

I give money and I don't give a flying fuck how they spend it.

LittleChimneyDroppings Sat 02-Feb-13 01:21:43

Yeah, whatever green sleeves. The op didn't actually have to give anything. Sometimes I give money to people, sometimes I'll buy them food instead, sometimes I'll nip home and make someone a packed lunch if I haven't any cash. I could just do nothing, generally I don't though. As I'm not that persons employer though, I don't actually have to give them money or anything at all. You are a little OTT. Focus your rage on trying to change the situation for homeless people if you feel so strongly about it rather than shouting at people because they didn't give the right thing

andubelievedthat Sat 02-Feb-13 01:22:13

and once they get their£200 , it"s a taxi home ,home being a spacious des res where they count all that lovely money and stash some under the very expensive mattress.. put in the hours and what ? £1400 per week....Hmmmm.

Greensleeves Sat 02-Feb-13 01:24:48

Am I shouting? confused

Thanks for the "yeah whatever", I was missing my 10yo's company.

I do contribute in other ways (again, I posted that upthread) but this thread is about spending the money you ARE prepared to part with on something you consider worthy, rather than giving the sum to the recipient and allowing him to exercise full adult control over what he chooses to buy with it.

LittleChimneyDroppings Sat 02-Feb-13 01:36:01

Well, you sound like you are shouting to me. And no I'm not your ten year old, I'm sure it would be a surprise to you to find your ten year old responding to you on here.
I'm prepared to spend my money on how I see fit. When I see the homeless guy with his bottles lined up who sleeps near by to where I live, then I'm not prepared to give him cash. I'm happy to bring him food, for which he usually says thank you for and starts eating it. When he's asleep, I leave it in a lunch box next to him for when he wakes up. He's never accused me of being patronising for not giving him the cash instead, he actually seems vaguely pleased about it. I don't give him adult control over what I am prepared to give, because I don't want to. Hell would freeze over before he actually spent that money on food. My money, my choice. If he doesn't want it he can say no. His choice.

anonymosity Sat 02-Feb-13 01:46:30

I agree with LittlechimneyD

feministefatale Sat 02-Feb-13 03:14:25

An employer won't pay you in food vouchers because you work for money. You provide a service for money.

Being homeless does not provide a service, so you are asking for someone to be kind and share what they have with you. 9 out of 10 times I will give someone money but if they stink of booze or are obviously on drugs, I am not going to give them money. I am making an ethical choice to not provide something to someone that I have no obligation to provide to. A person who has shown that their addiction is making them ill and ruining their life. I will if the possibility arises give them food, they need food. They have no obligation to accept food and I have no obligation to provide food but if they accept it who are you to judge?

Now it is all fine for those of you sittin behind the warm glow of your computer to say it's better to give nothing at all than to give a sandwich, but again you have food in your stomach and a roof over your head. Who are you to make that decision for a homeless person in need if that is all that is on offer?

YorkshireDeb Sat 02-Feb-13 04:07:48

You offered food, he accepted it. If he found it patronising or didn't like the sandwich I'm sure he'd have said no. Stop beating yourself up for trying to do a good deed. It's far better than people walking past & ignoring him. Out of interest, did your friend give him some money? If not, I'm not sure she's in a position to judge. X

sashh Sat 02-Feb-13 06:50:29

I always buy the big issue and never take the change (felt guilty years ago when it went from 80p to £1 because I still handed over a £1).

I have given money, usually when there is a dog, I know I'm a sucker.

I once gave a homeless person a sleeping bag, it was worth about £50, I wasn't going camping again and I used to pass two guys on my way into work. They seemed regretful. I didn't have £50 spare so had I given money it would have been £1 or £2.

I did say, if you can't use this can you give it to someone who can.

I bought a big issue from a seller in Preston a couple of years ago. His dog would not stay wrapped in the blanket the seller had brought and the dog's own coat had been stolen.

15 mins later I was back with a child's fleece costing about £2.50 that fitted the dog nicely.

I think there is no harm in asking.

ModernToss Sat 02-Feb-13 07:05:28

Beggers make on average, £200 a day on the streets of London if you pick the right spot.

I'd love to see some actual evidence for that. Looks like made-up shite to me.

Of course the OP did the right thing. She did something, which is by definition better than pointless moralising.

When we lived in a place with a lot of homeless people, I used to invite one or two 'regulars' to come to our house for a shower and the use of the washing machine. We also said they could use our address for mail. This offer was always gratefully received, as it meant they stood a chance of getting temporary work.

Was that patronising?

Snog Sat 02-Feb-13 07:20:29

The gift of food is not patronising because it can be declined.
It is surely more patronising to assume that a homeless person is incapable of refusing offers that he or she views as patronising. They could say money only if they wanted to and then the OP could choose accordingly whether to give money or not.

OP if homeless people are refusing offers of sandwiches from you then maybe stop offering. If they are generally pleased then carry on.
Your friend sounds a total pita

I haven't tea all the messages yet (I went to bed at 10) but just in response to a few - I had no cash to give him, there was no cah machine, so I really couldn't give him money (without really faffing about) anyway.
My reasons were twofold, firstly; yes, I admit that I was more comfortable knowing that my money was providing him with a meal rather than anything else but secondly; giving him food felt more personal than just dropping a few coins in his cup. I had a brief chat with him, asking him his opinion on the food and wished him a good evening. Something which would have been more difficult to achieve had I just slipped him some coins as I went past.

I didn't do it just for the "warm feeling" in fact, if anything, it made me feel worse that I couldn't have done more.

Right, going to read those messages!

scrablet Sat 02-Feb-13 08:48:37

It always comes back to 'my money'.
If you grudge it, or feel it is still 'yours', then (I feel) your belief behind the giving is flawed.
Not to say, you should stop giving, but what are you doing it for?
To help another human being, or to make yourself feel good?
If the former, then allow the givee the dignity of choice. If the latter? Hmmmm.

Callycat Sat 02-Feb-13 08:50:47

I think the Salvation Army official advice is to give food rather than cash, and to give cake/chocolate as well as something healthy. The SA argues that giving cash is likely to discourage the person from accessing homeless outreach. I think; I'm obviously willing to be corrected.

JesusInTheCabbageVan Sat 02-Feb-13 09:18:34

DH once told me I was 'patronising' homeless people by giving them money hmm So no, you can't win, but I think your friend is a teensy bit of a dick for having a go at you if she's not going to do anything herself.

Primadonnagirl Sat 02-Feb-13 09:31:13

Im still laughing at the thought of Electric giving someone a moon cup!!

grovel Sat 02-Feb-13 09:34:20

A cut and paste:

John Bird, founder of the Big Issue magazine and Thames Reach, a large-scale organisation with more than 350 staff, said that most people who beg on the street have some form of accommodation to go to.
Its spokesman Mike Nicholas said: 'Giving to people who beg is not a benign act. It can have fatal consequences.
'Many people asking for your money are caught up in a desperate cycle of begging from the public, buying drugs from a dealer and then taking these drugs.'
He added: 'There are many services seeking to help people sleeping rough. Please work with them, not against them.'

Sariah Sat 02-Feb-13 09:35:23

Tbh I think it is more patronising to say you should only give homeless people money. There are very few people I give money to. I usually give gifts. Birthdays/xmas/friends/visiting/ Why should I treat homeless people different to how I treat others. Surely that is being patronising by saying they wont appreciate a token or a gift. They are all individual and have their own story. A kindness is a kindness and that has to stand for something. I remember having a cousin and it was her birthday and her mother told everyone not to get her a present that money and a card was what she wanted. Well she can fuck off. If I am giving then I chose what to give. Its not a demand and I give what I can give at the time with a good heart and thats what is important behind the giving. If you want to give money give money if you want to give food give food. Its not for anyone to take the higher moral ground by undermining your choices. Most times I give nothing.

BoffinMum Sat 02-Feb-13 09:37:49

I think time of day is a factor. I saw someone outside a tube station at breakfast time recently and bought him a hot cheese breakfast pasty thing because it was bloody freezing, on the basis that it was exactly what I might have fancied in the same position. He seemed delighted, so I think I guessed it right that time. It's also polite to make a bit of small talk and pass the time of day during the exchange. That's somebody's uncle/son/brother/husband sitting there.

Back2Two Sat 02-Feb-13 09:42:51

I have worked in services working with homeless people.

Big Issue sellers are not actually "roofless", and they are on benefits. I have no objection to this, but "help the homeless" can be a little deceptive.

Many people begging for money will use it on drugs or alcohol it is true.
If anyone says "a little bit of money to get in the shelter tonight" the shelter wouldn't be charging the individual to get in, they are generally known to services and on a list to get into the shelter.

Some have been offered accommodation and have chosen not to take it for many, many reasons (valid for that person)

I'd give food, pet food, drinks etc.

flow4 Sat 02-Feb-13 09:49:30

But scrablet, if someone is using drugs, then it probably isn't allowing them 'dignity of choice' to give them cash; the addiction is interfering with their dignity and their choices already.

The universally accepted advice to anyone who lives with, knows or is friends with an addict is always the same: don't give them money that might be used to support their substance misuse. It's known as 'enabling' the addiction. Why would this advice be different for someone begging on the streets?

We usually don't know that someone begging has a drug/alcohol problem, but if we think they might, then it's reasonable to give food instead of money, to avoid 'enabling' and contributing to a possible problem.

But this is a hotly-debated issue. Here are two opinion pieces, giving different sides of the argument.
It's OK to give and
Why it does more harm than good

For the record, with the exception of my friend - who was there - and mumsnet for the purpose of hearing people's opinions on the issues my friend raised - I haven't told anyone about the food. It was done on a whim when presented with someone who looked hungry. Frankly, had my friend not bought up an interesting debate I would have forgotten about it (well, other than worrying about him I mean)

maddening Sat 02-Feb-13 09:51:53

I agree that many are not homeless.

My friend was a heroin addict - on incapacity benefit, in a nice flat on hb etc he begged all the time - I hated bumping in to him when he was begging.

I try & ask the people if there's anything I can get them, that way I'm not just giving them cash.

Once I got into an argument with a friend of my boyfriend as the big issue seller had asked for a coffee. I went out of my way to find a coffee for him then went back & gave it to him. Friend said I shouldn't have done, so words were exchanged.

Abra1d Sat 02-Feb-13 10:02:52

My SIL is an alcoholic. So far it has cost her her marriage, children, job and three houses. She is usually chucked out for keeping the places in squalor. If you give her money, she will spend it on vodka. I hope she won't end up on the streets, but there is a possibility, I suppose.

I find it rather odd that some of you think it would be fine to give her money for vodka.

DoingTheBestICan Sat 02-Feb-13 10:11:17

I have given both money and food/drink, I remember one young lad walking through the nearest town to where I live and he 'don't flame me' looked homeless,he was very scruffy,and was very dirty.

He was looking in the window of a bakery and was literally drooling,I went in and bought him a pasty,cake and a coffee,he had by then walked further up the street,so I followed him and said excuse me can I offer these to you? He said honestly,for me? I said yes for you,he was very grateful and he sat on the bench near us and ate them.

At the end of the day that was someone's son and I would like to think if ever my own ds stumbled on hard times someone would offer him a hot meal.

None of us know what is around that corner.

I have really enjoyed (not quite the right word) this thread as so many good points and links have been posted.

I still think that for me the best thing to do is to ask on my way into the shop if there's anything they might like, get it for them, and pass the time of day afterwards. And keep Shelter etc on my list of charities.

I once offered on my way into Greggs (yeah yeah) and he wouldn't take anything but tea with half a dozen sugars, despite friendly encouragement. I know some of the nicer hot food shops (eg the place where £4 would buy roast pork, stuffing, apple sauce, crackling and roast potatoes in a polystyrene tray with a lid) simply wouldn't let them through the door, so going in to buy it is a genuine favour.

Adversecamber Sat 02-Feb-13 10:22:09

I have links with a homeless charity via the foodbank I help run, so know the support workers but have met some of the lads that live there.

I do offer food, I do tend to ask what someone would like .Okay the op didn't ask his preference but the op bought food with the best of intentions.

One other point is many homeless people are treated very badly by passers by. I have heard about people pissing on them when they are asleep in doorways, attacking them and I do remember a case in the paper where a homeless man was set on fire and died.

Just actually bothering to have some kind of interaction and show some kindness with some of the most marginalised people in our society should be applauded.

Don't doubt yourself op your a decent person, just remember that.

LittleChimneyDroppings Sat 02-Feb-13 10:25:52

Grovel, yes I've heard this before. I wouldn't give money to someone clearly has an addiction. I doubt many who are addicted to drugs or alchol actively set out to put thenselves in that position. Once you're in that cycle its hard to get off. Do people think  an active clearheaded  choice is being made each time an alcoholic or drug addict buy their next hit or drink? Its a choice clouded and directed by the addiction itself.  

For posters who are insinuating that those who dont give the choice of money are patronising, I would say it would be socially irresponsible to hand that person a bottle of wine, or another fix (which in many cases you will effectively be doing), when their bodies are actually needing nourishment to survive. The drugs you get on the street are often cut with shite, depending on what that shite is, it could actually kill someone. I don't want to be responsible for that, or give money to see someone sink even further down. Why would anyone want to do that baffles me. 

It may be taking a choice away, (although the word choice is debatable anyway) and  people may insinuate all they like that people who don't give cash are doing it for themselves. However,  I'm doing what I think it the most responsible thing to do under the circumstances, whilst not ignoring the problem altogether.

Januarymadness Sat 02-Feb-13 10:27:18

I see a big issue seller outside a supermarket nearly every day. I dont enjoy reading the big issue and i am not sure how they would feel about me giving cash as selling the big issue is not the same as begging.

At xmas I gave the seller a voucher for the supermarket as a present.

Was I right or wrong?

Theicingontop Sat 02-Feb-13 10:30:52

I did it every morning on the way to work. Went into mcdonald's to buy my hot chocolate, the same homeless man would be there, I'd present him with a coffee too. But, I did ask first, to see what he wanted. I think that's just polite.

Maybe I should have asked him. I put a lot of thought into the meal deal, tried to pick a sandwich that looked filling and had "normal" ingredients that everyone would like. I also chose the largest drink and plain crisps thinking they are the more popular.
I did ask him if there was anything in the bag he didn't like with an offer to swap.

Maybe if I'd asked him before I'd gone he'd have been too embarrassed to ask or perhaps he would have asked for something I couldn't afford or something I'd been unwilling to give like fags or alcohol.

I think I'm only restricting his choice if I controlled ALL the money he received.

I think I can see what Greensleeves is trying to say though

lljkk Sat 02-Feb-13 11:05:27


diddl Sat 02-Feb-13 11:09:01

Those two differing views are interesting.

The guy who was homeless saying he´s OK if they use his money for drugs as maybe it prevents them committing a crime.

But surely not a good long term solution??

Either getting them off the drugs or back into employment so that they can fund it themselves would be better?

LittleChimneyDroppings Sat 02-Feb-13 11:11:59

Its not a good long term solution. Its a sticking plaster for the here and now.

WhoWhatWhereWhen Sat 02-Feb-13 11:17:24

why shouldn't he buy drink or drugs? a meal deal doesn't get you away from a shit life, a bottle of cider sure does

WhoWhatWhereWhen Sat 02-Feb-13 11:24:29

I bet the vast majority of people on her have drunk too much after a bad day at work.

EasilyBored Sat 02-Feb-13 11:24:31

I suppose a bit if me feels that I don't want to put my money into the drugs trade, which damages millions of lives. I see the point about choice, but drug addiction hardly leaves you free to make a real choice.

There is a big issue seller outside our local m&s and I always pick him up a coffee on my way out, but I've asked and I know his order now!

Giving someone who has nothing, something to eat, when done in the sprit of kindness, is not patronising. Being holier than thou about someone elses choice to act kindly is patronising. The world would be much nicer if we all just stopped to ask how someone was, and if there was any thing we could do to help.

WhoWhatWhereWhen Sat 02-Feb-13 11:25:18

he has a decent excuse to get pissed

diddl Sat 02-Feb-13 11:26:42

If he wants to buy drink or drugs-up to him-I personally don´t want to give money to the drugs trade.

BlackAffronted Sat 02-Feb-13 11:27:58

It was a gift. You dont get to dictate gifts. Those who say that it is unreasonable to give a gift instead of money is quite up themselves!

LittleChimneyDroppings Sat 02-Feb-13 11:30:13

If he/she wants to buy drink and drugs entirely up to them. I wouldn't personally be funding that, but looks like theres plenty of others who would. They might have a decent excuse to get pissed, but its a perpetual circle isn't it, as the getting pissed is playing a large part in keep them down in a shit situation in the first place.

BumBiscuits Sat 02-Feb-13 11:36:43

I don't like the Big Issue and have given them the money without taking the magazine before. I reckon that is okay, they get to sell it again.

BumBiscuits Sat 02-Feb-13 11:40:58

I've never given a street beggar something rather than money. My pal's OH gave a beggar a McDonald's meal once but then felt bad in case he choked or it made him ill. That seemed random and bizarre to me.

kimorama Sat 02-Feb-13 11:55:31

SEVENTH Better to do something than nothing. I have given money on occasions. And I give some money to homeless organisations. I would imagine the bigger the city the bigger the homeless problem.

tethersend Sat 02-Feb-13 11:56:26

"I suppose a bit if me feels that I don't want to put my money into the drugs trade, which damages millions of lives."

But you wouldn't be. The homeless person would.

If you have given them money, it is no longer yours.

BubaMarra Sat 02-Feb-13 12:58:24

I just fail to see how can someone be criticized for a good deed. Discussing whether giving food, drink, etc is patronising is like contemplating about first world problems, tbh. It really doesn't reflect a position that is fully aware of how horrible homelessness is and what it entails. These people might need drink or a fix BUT they also need food. It's not like these people have already had their 5 a day and then we come and try to stuff more food down their throat instead of giving them money to do what they want with it. I choose to buy them food and hot drink, someone else can do whatever they want. I think there are so many levels on which we can help them, choosing one does not prevent other people from offering some other form of help.

pigletmania Sat 02-Feb-13 13:01:30

YANBU I would rather buy a homeless erson food than give money, unless Big Issue seller. Mabey I would ask him what he liked

MeatSweats Sat 02-Feb-13 13:06:45

I give money and I don't give a flying fuck how they spend it.

^^This. Well said.

ophelia275 Sat 02-Feb-13 13:12:35

I will only give food to beggars. I would never, ever give money as I suspect it will be spent on drink or drugs. As someone else said, beggars can't be choosers, so it's food and if that isn't good enough, I suspect they aren't real beggars and tough titty!

LittleChimneyDroppings Sat 02-Feb-13 13:16:24

Completely agree bubamarra. People do what they think is the best thing to do. You want to give money, fine. If you want to give food, thats also fine.

Alisvolatpropiis Sat 02-Feb-13 14:43:30

I give food/hot drinks to homeless people sometimes. Not because I care what they choose to spend the couple of pounds I give them but because I very rarely carry cash,so I pay on card.

I used to buy coffee for the Big Issue sellers when I was younger because I never had cash to buy the magazine.

Over the course of a day spent sitting in the street begging,it is likely a beggar will be given enough money to buy their way into a shelter or for whatever they want to spend that money on. However in the meant time they are freezing cold,thirsty and hungry. Or boiling hot,thirsty and hungry. If one person gives good then that's one thing they don't need to worry about so much on that particular day surely?

I don't feel a particular warm fuzzy glow about how wonderful I am for giving someone a bit of food and/or a drink. It's just something I do.

EasilyBored Sat 02-Feb-13 15:56:17

I think you could say the same about anything though - I chose not to give my money to x company because of some of their affiliates and their practices, I chose not to give money as a gift to someone if I was certain they would just end up spending on someone else etc.

Pan Sat 02-Feb-13 16:05:35

Homeless Charities, such as St Mungos in London urge people to NOT give money. They know from their client group that the majority does go on substances and alcohol. It ultimately makes their life on the streets no better and prolongs it.

exoticfruits Sat 02-Feb-13 16:17:34

I think it is up to the person- I would give food or a drink-there is no way I would give money. If I give money I give it to the charity and not the individual.

garlicblocks Sat 02-Feb-13 16:24:32

Time to wheel out my Lovely Story grin

Friend's DH, very well-paid, public school, cushioned life, etc, never really 'saw' homeless people iykwim. Guy comes up asking for money. H ignores him, friend decides to deliver small lecture on what is actually "wrong with these people" and why they "don't just get a job like everyone else". H goes back to same young man; enquires as to immediate needs in order to get self housed, helped and look for work. Ends up handing him £500 cash for room, suit, shoes, haircut, fares, food (this was a while back.) Gives guy his card saying he'd like to hear how he gets on but no obligation, good luck. Chap rang him up a few months later, in work & renting bedsit smile Job done smile

It's terribly rude to assume everybody who's on their uppers will drink & drug all their chances away.

tethersend Sat 02-Feb-13 16:30:37

"It ultimately makes their life on the streets no better and prolongs it."

But isn't that their choice to make, Pan?

Greensleeves Sat 02-Feb-13 16:36:29

It seems charities and people working with the homeless are divided, according to their own experiences of a complex subject.

What I find offensive is the MC stranger assuming homeless = drunk and druggie and thinking that their loose change buys them a measure of authority over another person.

LittleChimneyDroppings Sat 02-Feb-13 16:45:32

What I find offensive is the MC stranger assuming homeless = drunk and druggie and thinking that their loose change buys them a measure of authority over another person.

Its not always an assumption though is it. Sometimes its blindingly obvious. And I can't see what authority its actually buying. They can accept the food, (or the money), or they can say no. There is a choice there.

Pan Sat 02-Feb-13 16:49:21

I suppose it is tethers. But I'd not want to be 'supporting' someone's choice that prolongs them to be so vulnerable to assault, robbery and dreadful healthy issues. It's a 'warmth of concern' for someone else that stops me doing that. When I worked in M/c centre I used to give a cup of take-out coffee from time to time to a young bloke and his dog.

Greeny - I don't think it's an imposition of 'authority', and as I'd said, the charity St Mungos indicates it's more than just an assumption that the majority goes on alcohol/substances no matter what the class of the person doing the giving. But yes it is complex and I'm not 100% confident I'm doing the right thing. Apart from giving.

Hesterton Sat 02-Feb-13 17:21:59

Relevant prank...

I think offering a choice of food is a good option, and offering time of some sort is good too, a few friendly words and a laugh. Humanising.

DaveMccave Sat 02-Feb-13 18:20:55

I hear people saying to do this all the time and I do think its patronising. My family took in a homeless man once, he told me how he had turned to alcohol after becoming homeless. (Landlord had rented out his flat after a long stay in hospital and he didn't have enough money to find somewhere else and had no family). Lots of homeless people turn to drugs and alcohol as a result of being homeless, not the other way round. I know which I'd prefer if I was on a cold street. So I don't care if the quid I give them is going to their next pint or drugs, it will keep them warn for a bit and get then through the next night.

Some people here seem to be saying that I should have bought him alcohol rather than food because it would have made his night more bearable.

porridgewithalmondmilk Sat 02-Feb-13 19:33:40

That is frightening and easy to believe Dave. Something similar happened to me once and I was homeless for six weeks although I had a job. I was working nights and slept in my car during the day. It was horrendous sad and I know I had it easy in comparison to some.

Alisvolatpropiis Sat 02-Feb-13 19:44:29

Seventh you did a nice thing,I don't understand why people are judging you for it on here.

Everyone gets hungry...I'm sure when you're homeless knowing when you're next going to eat is a big issue.

He might not have been homeless because of alcohol/substance issues. He might not even drink! How insulting would it have been to make that kind of assumption about him?! Very.

eminemmerdale Sat 02-Feb-13 20:09:02

I've been following this all day and have wondered how to put my perspective into it. I used to be the manager of a homelses day centre. 95 % of the clients who came in first thing in the morning for breakfast, were either rough sleeping, in a night shelter that kicked them out in the mornings or Big Issue sellers. The rough sleepers nearly all had substance misuse problems and were desperate for breakfast before they went back onto the streets to beg for money for their habits, ditto most of the night shelter crew. the Big Issue sellers were usually in vulnerable accomodation, ie short term hostels, dodgy bedsits.. and, despite the poster upthread who said they are all 'clean', this is simply not true, a lot of them still had the substance problems. Our job was to try to persuade people to use our facilities - education, health, art, alcohol/drug services, whatever, but it was so hard. All a lot of them really wanted to do was either phone the DSS to either shout at them for not paying them their benefits that week, or try for another crisis loan. It's like nailing jelly to a wall. I was interviewed on tv and radio about the whole should we give money or not, and I really cannot answer that. I would just say give whjat you, at that time, feel you want to give - a £1, a sandwich or your time. It was the most emotionally difficult time of my life and it took me a long time to be able to spend my money on frivolous things like haircuts or make up without feeling rubbish and guilty. Some of them I couldn't stand - just like anyone you meet, some of them were self pitying and some downright unpleasant. But no-one, no-one wants to be in that position

Glossynotflossy Sat 02-Feb-13 20:11:31

I think it was a nice gesture. Don't worry about it

Snazzynewyear Sat 02-Feb-13 20:24:14

I don't think they're saying that Seventh. I think they're saying that might be some people's choice if they have the money to make the choice and perhaps the reasons for that are understandable. But as eminemmerdale says above maybe it's about just giving what you feel you can afford.

missalien Sat 02-Feb-13 21:34:08

Well anyway thank you for an act of kindness in a sometimes cruel world. My mum and sister have both been homeless and lived on the streets , in bitter temperatures , drink and drug problems galore. Sometimes its the little things that count and it is always nice to be considered . It would have taken a split second to chuck a pound in a pot but im sure that person felt a little better that you had considered his needs as a fellow human trying to survive when you actually took the time to chose a meal for him and thought hey he could be hungry. It was a good thing and im glad there are kind people out there , my sister recently died of a drug drink painkiller overdose but my mum is in sheltered housing in london . I hope she would encounter someone like you who as much as none of us can cure tje problems they face, doesnt mean we dont give a shit .

So thank you.

missalien Sat 02-Feb-13 21:35:44

And now im going to have s little cry .

eminemmerdale Sat 02-Feb-13 21:38:54

missalien Just - you've just said it so much better than any of us could - I wish you everything good x

GobblersKnob Sat 02-Feb-13 21:42:32

I think it's a kind thing to do smile

However as the late great Bill Hicks said 'drugs are pretty important to a drug addict'.

missalien Sat 02-Feb-13 21:53:23

It was your post eminemmerdale that let mw say it as your comment about spending money on frivolous things rang very true and it came across thar you really cared . So thank you from thw family of the people you have helped .

eminemmerdale Sat 02-Feb-13 22:06:07

blush Thank you I just remember one day I had spent about £150 on a haircut and some nonsense stuff and I went to my boss in tears saying - how could I have done that when what's going on downstairs is so boss just said, look, you earn your mney by giving a shit, and, although it didn't stop me feeling bad, it made me actually realise that what I was doing was important and that was the main thing. Without wanting to sound arrogant, I used to love making them laugh and hearing them say 'emin, you are so funny, thank you..' and stuff. Just two minutes out of my day to hear someone who had nothing laugh or just appreciate something I'd done. It meant the world to me.

miss alien and eminemmerdale thank you for your perspectives. What an interesting thread. I've got some thinking to do.

What does everyone think about giving the Big Issue seller a pound but not taking the magazine? I seem to recall hearing somewhere that this was frowned upon, can't remember why. I just don't have the time to read it and the once or twice I have done, wasn't really my cup of tea.

missalien Sat 02-Feb-13 22:15:47

Id say fake the paper so they have less to cart around :-)

Also it could be used to raise awareness and diacussion

Miss alien - thanks for your comments. I'm so sorry to hear about your sister.

kennyp Sat 02-Feb-13 22:32:02

Bloody hell. All of that because of a sandwich.

I am exhausted reading some of that ffffffffffffffs.

I think you did the right thing though, i would have done the same and not expected the morbid dissection of the kind gesture afterwards. (I used to give a homelesss man cigs until my boss saw me and said i would have every homeless person in london after me if i continued!!)

eminemmerdale Sat 02-Feb-13 22:42:27

quick point - when I worked at the day centre, I did two xmas days (when we cooked a meal and gave presents out - donated) Each time I bought 60 fags and handed them out like sweeties! smoking is rubbish <ex smoker> but having all those fags - I even had one person say 'you bought them for us didn't you?' I am not a Beckham, but yeh, I knew they would want a smoke so I did it.

NameGotLostInCyberspace Sat 02-Feb-13 23:30:01

11 pages debating about an act of kindness??? Isn't doing good all about intention? If the man didn't want it all he had to do was say so.

Keep giving people.
When we stop givin and start analyzing we know that we are screwed.

Pan Sun 03-Feb-13 00:45:00

emin in the mid-1980s I worked in a hostel for the homeless for 2 years, and yes it was very very draining emotionally. The stories of dire circumstances and histories every day was just the pits. Most of the people weren't off the streets, it was mainly a resource for those eligible for LA housing but th esupply was so poor they ended up with us.
And yes we bought stuff out of our own pockets, esp at Christmas and long term resident's birthdays.
Just the most appalling happenings in a country the 6th richest in the world.

BoffinMum Sun 03-Feb-13 08:42:03

It would be so worthwhile for a political party to come into power and singlemindedly address homelessness once and for all. It was possible after WW2 and it is certainly achievable now, with a bit of intelligence. As you say, we are a wealthy country and well within our grasp.

HollyBerryBush Sun 03-Feb-13 08:48:22

from a Leicester homless charity .... I would give you the London links but none of you like tory owned media.

In July, local police cautioned 20 people for begging on the streets of Leicester in the first two weeks of a scheme to tackle the problem. But, joint operations between the city council and the police revealed none of them were homeless. Instead they were professional beggars, much like the fictional character from the Sherlock Holmes' case The Man With The Twisted Lip. Toni Soni, the head of hostel services at Leicester council, said: "There are people who are actually professional beggars who are doing it to make a living. If we did find they were rough sleepers, we would try to engage them in our support services.” Sergeant Adrian Underwood, of Leicestershire police, told the local paper Leicester Mercury that some people could pick up to £200 begging on a Friday or Saturday night. Previously, the police launched a 'three strikes and you're out' approach after begging emerged as a major issue for people living, working and shopping in Leicester.

BoffinMum Sun 03-Feb-13 08:53:36

At the moment I see a series of sticking plasters and no joined up housing policy. I see families in B and B accommodation when large flats and houses lie empty. I see developers building flats that don't sell while people roam the streets having lost their accommodation. I see no place for people to go if they have drink and drugs problems. I see brownfield sites being used for posh developments instead of locally relevant ones. I see developers being given free rein to exploit greenfield sites with minimal consideration given to local housing needs. I see wealthy people converting bedrooms to gyms and dressing rooms and home cinemas while their children's teachers are virtually sofa surfing.

We need to bring back a connection between housing size and the number of occupants. We need to build more family flats rather than houses, and get families designing the homes they are going to live in. And we need to make rents realistic in terms of income and travel to work times.

eminemmerdale Sun 03-Feb-13 10:01:23

boffinmum we're in the same city and I cannot believe the amount of building work going on! it's incredible. And the two main shelters for the homeless, whilst having gone 'upmarket' have actually reduced their available beds.

Callycat Sun 03-Feb-13 10:16:13

Dave and porridge, I believe that too. Few years ago I got made redundant. Landlord kicked me out ("no DSS"). No private landlord would even talk to me while I was unemployed, and social housing services said I was not a priority as I had no dependents. I was very lucky that I had family to support me; otherwise, I would have been on the street. And I'm an academic professional.

Callycat Sun 03-Feb-13 10:20:07

Er, didn't mean to sound like a twat saying "I'm an academic professional". Just wanted to illustrate that it could happen to anyone, not just the allegedly feckless.

Hulababy Sun 03-Feb-13 10:25:49

When I worked in the prisons I worked with a lot of homeless charity organisations and bother agencies linked to helping and supporting homeless people. They almost always advise against giving money and to always offer food, drink, clothes, etc instead.

I passed the homeless man who I gave food to on my way to work. I work in a large "formal household" looking after the children in a VIP family. Their mansion in an affluent area has 12 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms but we live in a house they rent centrally so, and I quote, the Mum can be closer to Harrods. Their rent is around £5500 a week.
It upsets me so much when I pass by the homeless on my way to work with people who buy Perrier specially to put in the iron.

eminemmerdale Sun 03-Feb-13 10:58:33

Perrier in the iron shock blimey!

eminemmerdale Sun 03-Feb-13 10:59:52

Now we're going to want to know who they are wink

fackinell Sun 03-Feb-13 11:04:42

I saw a 'homeless' guy outside a tube station discreetly trying to chat on his mobile phone. I just managed to stop myself from shouting, 'how do you charge the fucking thing, sit around waiting for a bolt of lightening to hit you?'

It is possible he charged it at a shelter every night, I guess, but the fact he was trying to hide it made me feel he wasn't homeless.

Since then I have stopped giving money to homeless people (but still would offer to buy food to those who seem genuine).

porridgewithalmondmilk Sun 03-Feb-13 11:05:01

Cally, same!

In my case, I had completed my degree and I was about to commence a PGCE course to train to be a teacher. Since the first school I was placed at was quite a distance from the university I obtained temporary lodgings in shared accommodation. Unfortunately this came to an end at the end of November, and I had nowhere to go until my next placement which was mid January. I had no family, so I worked in a care home nights and slept in the car during the day. Horrible times, and I did at least have shelter of sorts and food and clothing.

What is difficult to explain though (and I am going back ten years now) is the sense of complete isolation from the rest of society you feel, I spent Christmas Day 2002 sitting in my car looking out at a lake where my parents used to take me as a child and wondering what they'd think if they knew where I was. Horrible!

whois Sun 03-Feb-13 11:08:51

YANBU in the slightest.

Even if you are 'controlling' his spending choices that's tough fucking luck and surely a ham sandwich is better than nothing at all?

I don't give money to beggers, I prefer to give to charity who can make better spending decisions.

BoffinMum Sun 03-Feb-13 11:45:53

Emin, I have some involvement with the community building side of that and we have had very little influence over the social context of the housing. It is largely extremely expensive and given that the homeless hostel now costs £700 a month for people to sleep in, I just despair, I really do. I mean, what planet are councillors and developers on? Currently they are telling poorly paid key workers to live in Huntingdon and St Neots as it is cheaper, and forget about living in Cambridge. What then, I pray, is the point of that green belt development, other than to line Guy Pemberton's pockets? Surely that should be helping to house single key workers as well? Or is Cambridge now a ghetto for the posh?

Pan Sun 03-Feb-13 11:51:02

oh porridge, that sounds utterly tears-worthy.
The sense of isolation must have been profound.
For one year, prior to the hostel I was u/employed - that was extremely isolating, it felt at the time. But to be without home or support is a tough one to recover from i'd imagine.

firesidechat Sun 03-Feb-13 12:12:22

I always thought it was generally suggested that you don't give cash to people on the streets. We live in a nice city and there are usually beggers in most prime locations.

I have sometimes given money in a rash moment, but I think there is a scheme where you can buy food vouchers to give out. They can only spend it on food, but can obviously pick what they want. Keep meaning to look into it and possibly have some with me for when I'm feeling kind.

Can't really see that food is any more or less patronising than giving money.

Porridge, I'm so sorry to hear that sad

eminemmerdale Sun 03-Feb-13 12:31:50

I think you've summed it up perfectly - Cambridge is becoming a 'ghetto for the posh' I remember seeing that headline about 'House Prices In The City Rising !!!!' One of the few places in the country I believe. Great for some of us, but grim for most.

freddiefrog Sun 03-Feb-13 12:40:10

My foster child spent some time homeless and living/begging on the streets before she came here, and we've spent quite a lot of time chatting about her past experiences.

She said she was always really grateful for anything anyone gave her but if she was given money she'd always spend it on booze, which she admits wasn't helping her situation - she'd go for days without eating but she'd get quite a lot of cash which she'd spend exclusively on alcohol.

Over the time, people would take her into McDonalds or something to make sure she'd had something to eat that day, someone gave her a bag of warm clothes, toothbrush, or even tokens so she could have a hot shower at the local leisure centre. These people took the time to think about what she needed and would be of help to her, rather than chucking a few quid into a paper cup she felt that these people actually cared about her

She certainly never felt these people were patronising her, quite the opposite

Skittish Sun 03-Feb-13 13:05:47

This thread is fabulous!

he's BEGGING FFS!! He doesn't have any fucking dignity! Thank god people like the OP exist who don't wring their hands with bleeding heart liberalism and simply GIVE, freely and unquestioningly. And it isn't HIS money to make choices with - it's the OP's so she can do what she jolly well likes with it!

I give food, money , a sleeping bag once. Whatever is convenient or suits a situation. Everything I have ever given has been most gratefully received.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 03-Feb-13 13:36:53

There you go, OP... no good deed goes unpunished. I would have done what you did - but now am not minded to do it at all at 'grass roots' level for fear of being denigrated by people probably doing a whole lot less from their lofty positions of safety.

garlicblocks Sun 03-Feb-13 13:50:07

It would be so worthwhile for a political party to come into power and singlemindedly address homelessness once and for all. It was possible after WW2 and it is certainly achievable now, with a bit of intelligence. As you say, we are a wealthy country and well within our grasp.

Boffin, this is one of the most powerful statements I've seen in a long time.

LondonNinja Sun 03-Feb-13 14:48:39

Well said Skittish. And, LyingWitch, I hear you. I'm disgusted, absolutely fucking appalled at the criticism OP has received for her act of good faith - and the implication that she has committed some sort of heinous act. Don't let the hand-wringing holier than thou non-do-gooders put you off.
I'm still steaming about the comment that people give food to feel better about themselves in their nice, warm homes. FFFS. Don't judge everyone else by your own sorry standards. For some, altruism is just that, not a fucking political statement.

Callycat Sun 03-Feb-13 14:56:27

That's awful, porridge. I know how lucky I am to have family who could help. You never forget that sense of powerless. It's always at the back of my mind that it could happen again (another reason I hate renting, but that's another thread).

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 03-Feb-13 15:06:47

LondonNinja... Don't worry, I won't. Greensleeves et al have been so persistently vocal on this thread. I wonder what their points were but actually, I don't care what they think.

I'll do what I do and I won't judge anybody for doing something to try to help. Good for the OP and I hope she disregards the pointless, spiteful comments that serve no purpose whatsoever.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Sun 03-Feb-13 16:29:37

I think it's unfair to say that everyone who has said they wouldn't do this has said so spitefully or even critically. I have said repeatedly that whilst it was obviously intended kindly and was, hopefully, taken as such, I wouldn't do it. That's reasonable, surely?

The most spite I can see is in comments like 'beggars can't be choosers' and
'he's BEGGING FFS!! He doesn't have any fucking dignity'.

My feeling is always that if someone has sat in the cold and endured the glares and the disapproval and the danger and misery, they've earned their quid. And as I said: as with teenage nieces, so with the homeless. If you really want to be sure you've given them something they want, you can't go wrong with money.

Adamit Sun 03-Feb-13 16:46:36

i remember a girl wrapped up in a blanket sitting on a street i use to walk to and from work. she had a wooly cap on her and a cup between her knees. i stopped and rooted for me purse and she then rooted out the headphones out of her ears and turned off her ipod with polished nails. i walked away.

Adamit Sun 03-Feb-13 16:47:02

forgot to add OP i think you did a lovely thing.

DolomitesDonkey Sun 03-Feb-13 16:54:49

I have done similar and didn't stop for a moment to consider I was being patronising. I came out of a shop clutching bags and a man and his dog were sat on the pavement. I had no cash on me so turned on my heels went straight back in and put food for man and dog, plus 40 h&h on my card.

I realise now I should've asked him what he'd have preferred and whether he took PayPal.

porridgewithalmondmilk Sun 03-Feb-13 16:54:56

Thanks for the nice messages smile I'm now in a really fortunate position of owning my home outright (no mortgage.) Cally is right though, that sense of vulnerability does not go easily. I think when you have been outside of society, even only temporarily, you do see things differently. It's hard to explain.

That doesn't mean I think the OP was or wasn't being unreasonable: I can see both sides of the argument here. I will say though that a lot of people do become homeless through a crap set of circumstances. These won't be the ones you see begging, they will be the ones on people's sofas or in cars or hostels. It doesn't stop you feeling worthless.

BoffinMum Sun 03-Feb-13 17:14:22

Nobody is worthless, ever.

seeker Sun 03-Feb-13 17:30:24

"he's BEGGING FFS!! He doesn't have any fucking dignity!"

This is one of the most unpleasant things I have ever read on mumsnet. And dear god, there has been competition.

Alisvolatpropiis Sun 03-Feb-13 17:38:36

Statements like that one you quoted make me shudder seeker it suggests that homeless people are somehow less than those more fortunate.

I suppose it is undignified to beg,in a way. It doesn't mean the person has no dignity though,what an awful thing to think never mind say.

Pan Sun 03-Feb-13 17:41:36

frddiefrog - really interesting post, and reflecting the actual choices, and horrors that people face. As a young girl she must have been incredibly vulnerable comaparatively.

'no dignity, he's begging'. Lordy. [shakes head dolefully]

Skittish Sun 03-Feb-13 19:12:05

As a human anyone begging is as worthy and as important and equal to anyone else.

But dignified? No.

I didn't feel dignified with legs in stirrups giving birth but being without dignity is NOT the same as being without worth or value.

LondonNinja Sun 03-Feb-13 19:14:00

"I suppose it is undignified to beg,in a way."

Yes, it is. Of course it flaming well is. There is no suppose about it. To suggest that it is anything but is disingenuous.

The people on this thread harping on about how chucking a few quid in a cup is giving the homeless person more dignity than someone buying the person food is staggering. You're still doing the same thing: being charitable. It's the intent that's important. Many people on here who know what homelessness is like have said that money is not the best option and is discouraged by some charities and homelessness organisations.

Oh, and the insinuation that it's middle-class wankers who give food to assuage their guilt (about what, exactly?) is deeply misguided. I know people who have very little who fork out cash to help the homeless and I know others who give food when they struggle.

seeker Sun 03-Feb-13 19:17:36

There is a subtle but significant difference between being in an undignified position or situation and having no dignity.

edam Sun 03-Feb-13 19:20:57

I used to work for Sheila McKechnie, who had been the head of Shelter. I asked her once about this and she said it was up to the giver - if you are comfortable giving food, give food, if you are comfortable giving money, give money, hell if you are OK about giving fags give fags. Most important thing is you are making a human connection.

Skittish Sun 03-Feb-13 19:25:25

You are splitting hairs, seeker. Begging is undignified, to have to beg is to be without dignity.

It shouldn't happen but it does and anyone who gives anything to someone in such a position is doing a good thing.

seeker Sun 03-Feb-13 19:28:42

I don't think I am splitting hairs. Particularly as your most unpleasant sentence implied that because, in your opinion, beggars have no dignity, there is no need for anyone to think about them in that way. No need to help them preserve what dignity they can hold on to.

porridgewithalmondmilk Sun 03-Feb-13 19:29:04

I wonder if we were to substitute the word 'begging' for 'benefits' if the responses would be the same on here?

Not saying that would be right or that it negates the OP trying to be kind - but still.

Skittish Sun 03-Feb-13 19:39:05

Utter tripe seeker how dare you put words in my mouth.

I am horrified that people have to beg, that they have fallen so low . I am angry that this happens - I always give so please stop trying to misinterpret my post.

Varya Sun 03-Feb-13 19:43:36

I think its best to give food to nourish the beggar rather than money which may not buy the best things for them. I used to give pies and tea to beggars in our town. But it is disgraceful that we spend millions abroad, whilst people in UK are reduced to begging and living rough. We should always look after our own before others in foreign states IMO.

porridgewithalmondmilk Sun 03-Feb-13 19:49:14

I think its best to give food to nourish the beggar single mums claiming income support rather than money which may not buy the best things for them.

Yes, it does look different. I'm inclined to side with Greensleeves here the more I think about it - very patronising and unpleasant.

It's the wealth divide that grates me the most. I went to Harrods today with the family I look after and it was full of people swanning around in tgeir furs buying encrusted iPad cases sold at £2200 where just outside a man sat in the gutter probably with little idea where he would sleep that night.
This is a disgrace and speak volumes about our country.


blush sorry!

fairylightsinthesnow Sun 03-Feb-13 19:50:38

Varya, the millions we spend abroad is the tiniest, tiniest % of GDP, literally 0.0 something. If homelessness in the UK could be solved by chucking that money at it, it would have been done already. People in the UK are homeless for many, many reasons it is not as simple as extra funding. The idea that someone is more or less worthy of "our" help because they are one of "us" purely by dint of being born on one side of a line on a map is bonkers, nasty and simplistic.

porridgewithalmondmilk Sun 03-Feb-13 19:54:28

But Seventh, why shouldn't they spend THEIR money?

Wealth is not a crime, unless you get it by means that are either illegal or morally questionable. We NEED wealthy people - I am by no means in their league but I do earn over £40,000 a year now and with that I pay a heck of a lot of tax and I do support charities. I also work hard and I do a valuable job.

I have nothing but sympathy for people reduced to begging and for other people in horrible circumstances - I've been there and it's shit. But how does me spending money I've earned on an item of clothing I've had my eye on or a pretty item for my house mean that it's a "disgrace" other people don't have the same?

If we gave every 18 year old exactly the same amount of money right now, no one with more or less - in forty years time would they all have the same? Or would you expect some to be wealther than others?

porridgewithalmondmilk Sun 03-Feb-13 19:57:21

This is an interesting article:

It isn't as simple as "give a homeless person a home and they'll be happy and everything will be tickety boo" as the article shows. Homelessness can be the lesser of two evils - it was for me. I had friends I could feasibly have stayed with but I couldn't - it would have been too miserable to have been reliant on other people's pity.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 03-Feb-13 20:01:20

To be honest though, if you need to feed your kids would you really care whether you had the food or the money you needed to buy that food? Really, what difference does it make? Do you put people who utilise food banks on some kind of lower strata? No. If I lost my job and needed benefits to feed the kids what difference would it make to my 'worth' whether I received vouchers/similar or money - I didn't earn either but they're available to me and everyone else and thank god for that.

I think there are people on this thread out for an argument and to bang the same old drum, not to any effect, but it causes bad feeling so... result! hmm

yy OP to your last post. It is disgusting. Perhaps 'Disgusted of Derby' will stop impotently crticising you on this thread and actually go and lobby their MP.

I agree with Greeny

MrsOakenshield Sun 03-Feb-13 20:05:29

haven't read the whole thread but I suppose one way to look at it is that the food you bought him will not have killed him. Whereas, very possibly, the money someone else gives him one day well might. Yes, once you give him the money it is his to spend how he chooses, but (if he was, I have no idea but worse case scenario) alchoholics and drug addicts are hardly in the best position to make good decisions. Of course, it could be the cash that gets him into a shelter, and by not giving him cash he's not so hungry but on the streets tonight. You can't know. Maybe, if you see him regularly, alternate giving cash and buying him food? I don't think you did a bad thing.

porridgewithalmondmilk Sun 03-Feb-13 20:06:05

Lying, I actually agree with you but I bet if a thread was started stating that people on benefits should only be "paid" in food/clothing vouchers that couldn't be used on fags/booze everyone would go MAD grin

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 03-Feb-13 20:15:40

It's coming, I think, porridge... maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow - but soon - or eventually. The government (any party) is all about 'control' and they'll focus attention in the wrong place until the cows come home.

If I smoked/drank (I don't) but needed to feed the kids, the smoking/drinking would take a back seat if I couldn't afford it. If I were on benefits which were vouchers, the net effect would be the same but it's a decision that I'd make for myself anyway so what difference does it make?

When you earn you have control, when you don't earn, you don't really. And no... I'm definitely not going to start a thread about that ! grin

I can't believe the slating that OP had here, absolutely pathetic. If human interaction is the key thing then OP did that in spades... it's her choice to give food rather than money and NOBODY has the right to criticise her for that.

Porridge- I'm by no means slating people for being wealthy but there is a degree of wealth that becomes disgusting. I like to buy nice things just as much as the next person and I'm intelligent and politically aware enough to realise that communism is not sustainable. But there is a difference between earning £40,000 a year and treating yourself to nice clothes and earning squillions and buying - and I joke not - a £40,000 necklace from Harrods. Nobody needs a £40,000 necklace. That is more than twice the average yearly take home pay and it is this is disgusting

BoffinMum Sun 03-Feb-13 20:44:49

I am not convinced that the Tories will be back in power after the next election. I think many people are looking at the deconstruction of the welfare state with utter dismay. They wanted reform, not effective abolition for vast swathes of the population.

*that is disgusting.

Blimey! I just can't type today grin

Porridge - reading over that made me realise I sound ranty. I'm not, my apologies, I was merely trying to clarify myself smile

Skittish Sun 03-Feb-13 20:48:05

Seventh - they put food on your table though, these disgusting rich bastards, yeah? confused

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 03-Feb-13 20:50:51

Boffin... I agree with you but I think that whatever party is in power, they will have the same choices to make and will upset great swathes of the population anyway... there isn't the structure in place to effectively gather in more money and put it to use where it's really needed.

Tories, Labour, Liberals... what's the difference? None of them deliver on their promises or really follow their mannifesto so who's to know beforehand what they're going to do. Once they're in, they have x-number of years to muck up the country, which they seem to do with alacrity - before buggering off to massively overpaid new roles when they leave government.

I wouldn't even know who to vote for in the next election... they're all as bad as each other. That's a shocking position for the voting public to be put in really and I'm angry about it.

Skittish Sun 03-Feb-13 20:53:47

Agree entirely Lying

BoffinMum Sun 03-Feb-13 20:56:39

Choices are fine but it's the rhetoric of vile I am hoping will go away.

porridgewithalmondmilk Sun 03-Feb-13 20:59:35

I agree with Lying

Seventh, I do see your point, but I can't agree with it. The more you take from people with wealth, the more you remove the incentives to achieve that wealth in the first place. Yes, it would be nice if there was more of a gap between rich and poor but just at the moment i think we all pay enough tax - maybe that is a selfish view but I wouldn't be able to afford a child if I had to pay any more out from my salary.

It really is all relative and it's worth remembering that just as us "normal" people widen our eyes at a £40,000 necklace, so would people in the third world at our people living in poverty. Yet we don't insist that people on benefits donate 10% to Oxfam, or whatever grin

it does boil down to, I'm afraid, people doing what will make them happy with their money.

Abra1d Sun 03-Feb-13 21:02:21

I think the old-style Welfare State has gone for good, regardless of who is in power next. It is unaffordable in its old form.

And it was a Coalition government. The LibDems too.

BoffinMum Sun 03-Feb-13 21:05:03

You could develop a set of domestic policies that emphasis the dangers of polarisation of wealth, encourage pride in paying tax and voting, big up essential workers and people who work keeping the country's infrastructure going, modernise disability benefits so they corresponded to real life situations, ditto unemployment benefits, improve access to extended schooling, and simplify the justice system, but nobody does these things. Or rather people like Ruth Kelly and her ilk attempt to tackle it all, but they aren't sufficiently supported.

edam Sun 03-Feb-13 21:11:36

Quite, boffin. You could also pursue economic policies that are designed to support business and industry, rather than feeding the gaping maw of 'financial services' (which should there to serve business, not to rip off business, consumers and taxpayers at every turn - see fraud mis-selling scandal after mis-selling scandal).

garlicblocks Sun 03-Feb-13 21:17:17

Boffin, I'm thinking I want you for PM.

Pigsmummy Sun 03-Feb-13 21:17:49

I used to do it all the time, next time add a pack of chewable vitamins

garlicblocks Sun 03-Feb-13 21:17:49

You've got 2 years, think you can get a party together? grin

BoffinMum Sun 03-Feb-13 21:21:42

Yes, I am not sure how well served business and industry are at the moment. Credit is difficult, red tape is extraordinarily constraining, the whole taxation system seems unsupportive except to the largest companies, and planning laws apparently emphasise the wrong things entirely. I am amazed any of us make any money at all.

DizzyZebra Sun 03-Feb-13 21:22:44

I don't think there's a problem with it. When i was at school my friend and i used to go shopping and there was a guy we used to go and buy him a butty and a coffee, and then get his dog a massive tin of food and a big bag of chews for his teeth from the poundshop near enough every week.

BoffinMum Sun 03-Feb-13 21:23:57

Set me up a Facebook page and start fundraising then wink Isn't that how Obama did it?

Actually I am a fairly rubbish politician in RL, as I can't be arsed with being polite to wankers, but I do understand a) people and b) how to analyse policy.

BoffinMum Sun 03-Feb-13 21:25:07

I tell you what though, the problem is not with our politicians, it is with the Civil Service who are no longer Civil or indeed serve.

I'm not saying rich people should be forced to pay anything be if higher taxes or enforced charitable giving etc.
It is just shocking to me that they seem so blithely unaware of the desperate poverty right under their noses which they could do so much to help.

And yes, the wealthy do directly pay my wages, that doesn't make their lifestyle any more palatable.

Being polite to wankers is how you get in the game, Boffin!

I'll start making the t-shirts, who wants to be on banner-duty?

Consils Sun 03-Feb-13 21:54:37

What would your housing policy be, Boffin ?

BoffinMum Sun 03-Feb-13 22:08:08

Abolish the 1991 banding for Council Tax and introduce a new system based on usable floor space, divided by the number of occupants. Surplus space attracts the highest taxation. Second homes to be automatically taxed at the highest rate.

Incentivise Local Authorities to keep precise, real time records of housing need.

Introduce a national database of unoccupied/underoccupied housing and monitor this annually.

Provide finance for Local Authorities to build to meet housing need near workplaces and transport infrastructure, and to develop further sustainable infrastructure.

I'm not sure about the council tax = space one but the rest sound good to me

porridgewithalmondmilk Sun 03-Feb-13 22:10:58

The problem is, and I think the last ten years have shown, throwing money at a problem does not solve a problem. If - and it is an if, I am aware not all homeless people fall into the category of being drug addicts or alcoholics - someone is on the streets due to an alcohol problem, no amount of money, or food for that matter will really help. The only thing that will make a difference is them not being an alcoholic. Money won't help there.

It boils down to choice - you chose for the homeless man you saw by buying him food. That was nice. Other people feel the money should have been his so he could have made that choice himself; or chose not to give at all, and I think all those choices are perfectly acceptable.

I'm not sure how old you are Seventh (and I honestly don't intend that to sound in any way patronising) but when I was in my teens/early twenties, I was passionate about a fairer society and one which was equal. I have now come to realise, quite sadly in a way, that once you start taking people's wealth away from them you remove the incentive for acquring that wealth in the first place. I was watching Growing up Poor the other night and felt quite sad, as all the girls featured on it had a roof over their heads and some form of income through state benefits which I didn't have at that age. Although I'm a very caring person and obviously didn't wish the girls any ill will, I did roll my eyes a bit and disliked myself for doing so.

If we look at your example of buying a necklace for a large amount of money - that could, in your eyes, be presumably shared amongst the people living on the streets or whatever, thinking cynically we could all do that. I COULD sell my house and give the proceeds to charity and live in a single rented room, I COULD only ever buy clothes from charity shops and save what I would spend in Monsoon, Topshop, Karen Millen, and donate to charity, I COULD get rid of my iPhone and only have a basic model. We could all cut right back, but we don't. Money ultimately buys you things, experiences and security. In this country, the system at the moment is that if you earn a lot, you give a lot, if you earn little, you are given a lot (in general terms, you understand.) It's as fair as it can be without it ultimately being a communist state.

BoffinMum Sun 03-Feb-13 22:11:27


Increase tax free allowances for people renting out rooms in their homes.
Provide key worker housing on site at hospitals, schools, etc.
Increase shorthold assured tenancies to a minimum of 12 months.

Skittish Sun 03-Feb-13 22:21:45

Some people spend their cash on holidays, clothes, meals and flash cars.

Others scrimp on those and put it into a lovely house.

Why should the latter be punished by paying even more council tax?

porridgewithalmondmilk Sun 03-Feb-13 22:26:58

I agree with Skittish - I have a three bedroomed property and although I do hope to have children in the near future, hence buying it, at the moment it is just me! It's hardly a mansion either, it's just an ordinary terrace!

BoffinMum Sun 03-Feb-13 22:28:23

They still can, but the relationship between the space you need and the space you want will be more clearly defined and priced more realistically. At the moment many people in band G are paying an unrealistically low amount of money, given the impact that their choices have on their communities. In other words, it needs to be less desirable to 'hoard' space, and renting it out to others needs to become incentivised instead. If people choose not to do that, and pay more into the pot instead, that is up to them.

BoffinMum Sun 03-Feb-13 22:29:47

Remember it's floor space, not the number of rooms that will count. So small terraced houses will be cheap to live in, and large detached 5+ bedroomed homes will become more expensive. Small flats may end up being a lot cheaper to live in than they are now.

porridgewithalmondmilk Sun 03-Feb-13 22:32:00

I'd rather like a 5 bedroomed detached house in the future though Boffin! grin Seriously - home is the important thing to me, where I put my money in (largely due to the experiences I described in this thread.) I've got an old banger of a car that everyone mocks but I don't care, I'm not a car person, and I actually DO shop at charity shops sometimes.

I do see your point though and agree with your other policies so I'd vote for you wink

Dominodonkey Sun 03-Feb-13 22:33:41

So under boffins plan 3 solicitors sharing a flat would be paying far less council tax than one woman in a 2 bed house. How could that possibly be fair? In fact I will never understand how the amount you pay for local services has anything to do with the property you choose to buy. The lib dems local income tax seems to the fairest method IMO.

BoffinMum Sun 03-Feb-13 22:37:23

I think it's about sharing out the housing we have a bit more intelligently, and making people less reliable on it as a personal pension pot.

It would be possible to have your 5+ bedroomed house for a comparatively low charge if you had a couple of tenants, for example, or if extended family were living with you. If you wanted a couple of spare bedrooms just for the hell of it, or you wanted a TV room/gym/dressing room/art gallery/flower arranging room or whatever, then you might find it got very expensive very fast.

porridgewithalmondmilk Sun 03-Feb-13 22:41:38

But Boffin (and I am honestly not trying to be awkward) I don't have extended family, and yes having tenants is a possibility but one that brings so many difficulties of it with it that (to me) it wouldn't be worth doing. It isn't about having a TV room, but about wanting a home I love. I'd certainly hope that by the time my DC reached secondary school age I would be in a position to buy a big house with a big garden for their and my future.

BoffinMum Sun 03-Feb-13 22:43:11

Domino, I am actually thinking of making property less connected to income and what people can afford to pay, and related more closely to what people actually need.

It's like the bedroom tax proposed for those on benefits, but across the board instead. I wouldn't want it to be as punitive, but I do think if a family of 4 is occupying a massive amount of housing stock for no obvious reason other than they like being spread out a bit, then we have to ask whether this is appropriate when other people are tearing their hair out trying to find homes.

I am not saying people can't do it, I am just saying we should recognise the value of the space they are using a lot more intelligently than just putting them on Band G and charging them a relatively small multiple of Band D, when realistically it should probably be a lot bigger.

BoffinMum Sun 03-Feb-13 22:44:36

But if you had, say, two children, then you would be entitled to a certain amount of space along the lines of a 4-bed house and you might well end up paying less than you do at the moment.

porridgewithalmondmilk Sun 03-Feb-13 22:48:17

Finances and my age mean I would be highly unlikely to be able to afford more than one chld unfortunately, so there would only be two of us in my dream house! grin

elizaregina Sun 03-Feb-13 23:13:30


Can I ask if you know for sure they dont donate to charity in some form. People with that sort of wealth often attend fund rasiers adn dinners and support things.

OP: I think its really sweet you gave anything at all - if I was homeless though I would def prefer the money.

Last time I gave to a homeless person it was a sleeping bag and an old pillow and a big bar of chocolate. I had just washed and dried them I will hasten to add and I was going to drop them in the charity shop in the morning, he appeared opposite our house and he looked cold so I gave then to him instead, he got the chocolate because I'd just come out of the shop with 2 bars so I shared. Was that wrong? Maybe, but you can't go through life constantly rehashing every event, ooh! Did I offend them.. etc You were trying to be helpful and kind OP, you were, stop worrying about your friend.

2aminthemorning Mon 04-Feb-13 01:22:55

You've restored my faith in human nature. Thank you.

UPDATE: just gone past the same homeless man at the same tesco just like te other week.
Knowing better from this thread I said "I've not got any cash (true) but am going in (I actually wasn't but whatever) would you like anything?" he said "I'd love a coke, love" so I asked whether he'd like a meal deal and he requested a Ham Sandwich, Coke and Cheese and Onion crisps - The EXACT meal deal I'd given h before.
So there you go!

So there up go wasn't meant to be smug blush it was more of a relieved exclamation!

BoffinMum Fri 15-Feb-13 21:07:12

Perhaps he is a MNetter and saw your thread and is being polite! grinwink

Boff! grin
I'm just relieved I didn't present a ham sandwich to someone Jewish/Muslim/veggie!

determinedma Fri 15-Feb-13 21:31:54

Greensleeves you are being a complete arse. My brother is an alcoholic and at the moment, is being cared for by the family. But if, and when, he ends up on the streets again then I will pray that someone gives him food and not money. Food will keep him alive until he can be rescued. Money for alcohol will keep him on the streets. If you offer food and are rejected because the beggar feels demeaned - as if - then walk away and be proud of yourself for trying to help.

Molehillmountain Fri 15-Feb-13 21:38:26

Fwiw, op, you've reminded me to do this more often. The lad I asked if he would like a meal deal was very grateful. I asked him what sandwich he'd like and he seemed pleased to be asked. I'll take the risk that its patronising but I'm guessing not.

chipmonkey Fri 15-Feb-13 21:42:32

Good guess then, Seventh!grin

exBIL used to work for a homeless charity and he found that a lot of the young men he worked with were homeless as they had MH issues or SNs. One young man had no problems with drugs or alcohol but would get very stressed waiting in queues and couldn't stay in them for any length of time. Unfortunately, if you are homeless and want to be housed queues are an inevitability. ExBIL used to help him out by going to the welfare offices with him and calming him down intermittently till he got to the top of the queue. He got his flat.

In Dublin years ago, and I'm sure it still happens now, some parents would put their children on the streets to beg. My cousin passed one child and was giving her some money when the child said "Buy me chips" My cousin bought her a sandwich and a drink. She said the poor child devoured the sandwich and clearly hadn't eaten anything that day. sad She wanted to bring her home.

I do remember a radio presenter here also doing an experiment where he pretended to be homeless for a week, slept on the streets etc. He said the worst thing was not being acknowledged as a human being, ignored, passed by unheeded. One guy stopped to talk to him, bought him a coffee and chatted for a few minutes. And he recognised the kind stranger as being Michael Flatley of Lord of the Dance fame.

sad poor child

He seemed pleased to be asked and, bless him, only asked for a coke first. There was a worry in the back of my mind that he would ask for a bottle of fine whiskey or something grin but I actually had to offer for the sandwich!

BoffinMum Sat 16-Feb-13 08:30:29

I think saying hello and smiling and passing the time of day is an important part of it. There but for the grace of god is my personal motto.

missalien Sat 16-Feb-13 08:40:58

Mine too Boffin I love that saying

Well done Seventh!

TheFallenNinja Sat 16-Feb-13 09:09:02

Good for you. Money isn't always the answer.

ineedabodytransplant Mon 18-Feb-13 15:22:09

There has been a homeless chap around our local shops for the last couple of years. Never asks for anything, and generally whenever I see him he is reading a book. I got him a tea and started talking to him last year as the snow was pretty heavy, and asked him whether he wouldn't prefer to be indoors if possible, but he said he loved the outdoors. after talking I found out how he likes his drink/food etc so I often buy him a coffee, or a meal deal etc but I do speak to him and he because he is quite intelligent, a conversation is never a difficulty. And I always have a home for my paperbacks..

He is always grateful, but I am not doing it to gain brownie points, I do it just because I can.

Just lately a couple of other blokes have taken to hanging round the same shops. Totally different. Shoving cups in your face, asking outright for any change. Yet they smoke and have mobiles.

Their situation may be exactly the same as the first chap, but the way they go about it is so different. They get nothing, as it's my choice what I do with my money.

plaingirly Mon 18-Feb-13 17:36:56

I tend to ask the person what they want - there aren't many homeless people on the streets that I frequent now but I used to see a few regulars each day.

I know there was one man that I bought bacon sandwiches for most mornings - he actually said he preferred the food being bought for him as people in the shops gave him mucky looks when he went in with his sleeping bag.

RIZZ0 Mon 18-Feb-13 17:56:16

The op gave something to someone in need. So SWNBU.

I once gave a coat to someone homeless instead of a charity shop. He was very happy with it. He didn't berate me for assuming his style, or patronising him!
I think that's just some posters getting irate behalf for the sake of it. While they sit on their laptops and iPads, in the warm, being supercilious.

If you are in need and someone helps you, you can always say no thankyou to what is offered, can you not?

Everyone is different and will want to do different things. I used to give a sandwich to a homeless guy near my local shop whenever i didnt have cash on me, which i paid for on card. A sandwich is better than nothing, which would have been the alternative. Like the op I asked him what filling and it was fine.

And its not just about thinking they'll spend it on drink and drugs, in a lot of cases beggars are organised by gangs who take all their money at the end of the day, or who sit with drugged-up trafficked children in their laps looking like they're sleeping. To those people, a sandwich is a bonus, and in the case of the children, arguments like those waged against the op seem pretty petty.

dfrty Sat 06-Jul-13 17:43:23

that is disgusting. Homeless people are human beings. Giving them food is an act of kindness, but dog food? That's vile; they don't deserve to be treated like dogs. Tell your friend she can go to hell.

Souredstones Sat 06-Jul-13 18:28:57

Some homeless don't deserve the title of human though. I was in Italy last year a beggar was sat outside a bar from 9am with a child of about 4 years of age who was asleep. We walked past again at lunchtime and sat in the bar opposite for over an hour, child was still asleep. Went about our business went back into town for dinner at 8pm they had moved to a different part of town but the child was still asleep. Went into town the following day and saw her again, child was in the same position again at 10am.

It wasn't even what I'd say as a child being asleep it was lollopping in its mothers arms not sleeping.

The second day I asked in the bar why the police hadnt moved her on and was met with a shrugged shoulder and an explanation that it is extremely common over there for beggars to drug their children to make them look sick or keep them quiet so they earn more money. They're disposable commodities.

I would have called a person a liar if someone had told me that goes on if I'd not witnessed it.

I'm very wary if beggars and homeless people as a result now.

LRDLearningDomHome Sat 06-Jul-13 18:45:06

You heard a rumour, and now you think you 'witnessed it'? hmm

I know this is a zombie thread but what a ridiculous thing to say.

Souredstones Sat 06-Jul-13 18:47:01

Not exactly a rumour when something that you've seen is explained to you by someone who witnesses it every day. Very unusual for a child to be permanently listless and asleep no?

ChuffMuffin Sat 06-Jul-13 18:54:31

I live in a big city and I don't give money to the "homeless" in the streets, because 9 times out of 10 they aren't homeless at all, just beggars. I'm not saying they're all trying it on, but the majority definitely are. There are a pair that work the local shopping arcade where I work. I see them coming and going to their spots, which they only do on a Friday and Saturday (wonder why? hmm).

Anyway they got moved off by the police last week. They came back about half an hour later nicely dressed, saw the police weren't about, went and got changed, and returned to begging. Unfuckingbelievable.

They also tried to scam me in my shop once for changing coins in to notes, then started yelling at me that I was short changing them when I wasn't. Pair of bastards.

LRDLearningDomHome Sat 06-Jul-13 18:57:01

It's a rumour.

Not unusual for a child to be listless or asleep if they're malnourished, no.

You have no idea whether this rumour is true, and saying it's made you 'wary' of beggars in general just sounds like an excuse to judge people, to me.

You don't want to give stuff, fine, don't.

Essexgirlupnorth Sat 06-Jul-13 19:13:40

No I don't think that was unreasonable. Had a talk at the WI who said that most of the people begging were not actually homeless, one girl made £300 a day and spent most of it on drugs.
Really made me think twice about giving people money.

That's because those are beggars, most homeless people look just like everyone else. One girl does not equate to the entire beggar or homeless population and that doesn't make her or any of them less human.

Zombie thread gets advice page from actual former homeless person.

Murtette Sat 06-Jul-13 20:26:37

dfrty (who re-ignited the zombie thread) - I read the dog food thing as meaning that the friend gave the homeless person tins of dog food for his dog. I know the dog wasn't mentioned but I think that that is what was meant.

looseleaf Sat 06-Jul-13 20:37:42

Glad OP feels better about her food choice being well received. Nice to make even a small difference to anyone who might need it more.
I once had a friend's puppy for a week and it made it much easier to talk to a man begging on the street as broke the ice. after chatting for a while I asked his name and said I hoped we'd meet again. He said noone ever asked or remembered his name and how hard he found that which really taught me a lesson and whether anyone offers food or money it sobers me that it could just as well be me sitting there and longing for dignity and thought

Pitmountainpony Sat 06-Jul-13 22:18:54

I worked fundraising on the steets of London. Ten years ago...two hundred quid a day was about right back then.....of course you do have to be begging all day to make that......which takes some effort. More Than one beggar revealed this to was offered a job but chugging did not pay as well as begging.......he found it very amusing that he made more than we did and of course we all know how well those chiggers get paid.

SugarMouse1 Sat 06-Jul-13 22:40:29

Well, if he accepted and was happy with it then that's fine, no harm done is there?
But, I guess he could have been vegan/veggie/Muslim/Jewish/coeliac so maybe you can inadvertently insult someone or make them ill if you buy food for them, ISWIM?
There already are soup kitchens etc for the homeless to get food. As to them spending it on drink/drugs, well tbh I don't really blame them if they are living such a harsh, lonely life on the streets.
It could probably drive the best of us into an addiction.
I don't agree with buying the big issue though, because most people selling it aren't homeless (as in rough sleepers) most live in hostels/squats/sofa surf- I 'm sorry but whats so bad about that???

WafflyVersatile Sat 06-Jul-13 22:46:51

It's entirely optional whether you give them anything or not. So you are not unreasonable.

But, so what if they spend the money on drink and drugs? I'd want drink if I was homeless. Once you hand over money it's their money to spend as they see fit. Just because they are homeless doesn't mean they should not be allowed some agency in their lives.

SugarMouse1 Sat 06-Jul-13 22:49:01

Never, ever give to those Roma beggar children.

Its just encouraging their parents to exploit them.

I guess food is okay though, although the adults might just take that as well!

Futterby Sat 06-Jul-13 22:58:02

I used to give homeless people gifts. Once, I had been chatting to a homeless man selling the Big Issue and asked him how he was. He said to me "I'm happy hen, as long as it's not raining." That really got to me, so I went and bought him a jacket. A lovely waterproof one with a hood. I was 16 at the time, with very little income but I've always been one to give what I can so I spent my last money buying him this jacket.

So I went and gave it to him the next day and he just looked at me and went "thanks". I was a bit hmm for thinking he would be a bit happier about it, but I just said "you're welcome" and went on my way. As I was walking away, I turned around to watch him stuff the brand new jacket in the nearest bin.

I was too humiliated to mention it to him. The next day, on my way past again, I watched light up a fag and take a call on his iPhone.

Three days ago, there was a man sitting in Glasgow Center with no shoes or socks. I'm very wary, now, of giving homeless people anything (which is a wee shame but I can't help it) but I went in to a Sports Direct and bought him a pack of five thick socks to keep him warm. Went over to him and handed them over, and he snatched them out my hand and shoved them up his jumper and then acted like nothing had happened.

I'm 18 years old and a full time student, with myself and my partner living on his part time wage. We also have a baby on the way. I spent the money I was going to spend on our dinner on those socks that he didn't even want, so I didn't eat that night.

YANBU. I just wanted to rant a little.

Futterby Sat 06-Jul-13 22:59:37

*I watched him light up a fag

WafflyVersatile Sat 06-Jul-13 23:02:07

I can understand your frustration, Futterby!

Goes to show it's best to ask them what they'd like though.

foreverondiet Sat 06-Jul-13 23:02:33

I once asked a man begging what sandwich he'd like to eat from the tesco he was sitting outside. He said nothing as he was a strict gluten free vegan! I then asked if he wanted fruit or salad but he said he needed the money for a bone for his dog. I didn't buy him anything and it reinforced my view that many begging for money for drugs - yanbu I agree with what you did....

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