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to feel like a mug? I gave £20 to a beggar....

(123 Posts)
earwig1 Mon 29-Oct-12 18:26:56

I went shopping with my kids in London today, and we saw many beggars, mostly Rumanian, along Oxford St. As we approached John Lewis I saw a young woman begging. She seemed to be Muslim as she was wearing a head scarf, and in her mid 20s. For some reason I was compelled to ask her if she was ok, and as she spoke some English I asked her a few questions. She said she was a Bosnian refugee and she had shelter, not homeless, and lived with her mother and her daughter. She said she has no National Insurance number, so can't work, and actually apologized for begging. I gave her £20... Now I feel silly, as I know that I should give the money to Shelter, or other charities, but while I usually walk past beggars there was something about her that I couldn't ignore.

TeapotsInJune Mon 29-Oct-12 18:29:12

I don't think you were BU to give - I often do, but I give 50p or £1 not £20 grin

bedmonster Mon 29-Oct-12 18:29:49

If you could afford to give it which I assume you could then no, I don't think YABU. I give to beggars sometimes, it's the spirit of giving. Whatever she does with it, you had a very good intention.
Although if you can afford it, it might be a nice idea to look into shelter and other smaller charities which support the homeless so you know your money is going in the right direction.

WorraLiberty Mon 29-Oct-12 18:30:13

I'm sure this thread will be full of posts saying how lovely you are - and I'm sure that's true.

But YANBU to feel like a mug because it's quite likely you've been taken for one I'm afraid.

Begging is big business in London and other big cities.

earwig1 Mon 29-Oct-12 18:30:26

Yes, me too. On the rare occasions I do give it's 50p/£1...

lisad123 Mon 29-Oct-12 18:30:47

Many but not all beg as a full time job and make a large amounts of money!!
I never give money but will buy a cup of tea and food instead.

PumpkInDublic Mon 29-Oct-12 18:31:34

She was honest about her situation and admitted she wasn't homeless but she needed help, you chose to help. No need to feel like a mug, if you could afford and you wanted to give you've done a nice thing.

Karma rolls round on us all. smile

TamekaCupcake Mon 29-Oct-12 18:32:12

There are a lot of 'professional beggars' here in London, they work in gangs and generally appear to do very well from people. They appear to frequent the main touristy areas and The Underground system (women with babies)

The lady you saw may well have been genuine, I guess you'll never know. I don't tend to ever give money but will give food or drink. I give money to Charities though.

I wouldn't feel too bad - you live and learn.

earwig1 Mon 29-Oct-12 18:34:34

In a way, I hope I was a mug... as the situation as it seemed was heartbreaking, to see her there in the rain, with a young child waiting somewhere...

ArtfulAardvark Mon 29-Oct-12 18:34:48

Its a nice thing to do, she probably does make more money than some people who work but what the heck....I assume you can afford it and it was kind!

cozietoesie Mon 29-Oct-12 18:35:05

It was a nice gesture - but I was once tempted in London to give some money to a 'homeless' lad, with dog, who was carrying a placard saying something along the lines of 'Need fare to get home to Scotland urgently'. People were throwing 10ps and 50ps into his cap.

It was a part of London I didn't normally go to but I was on a course. I first saw him on Monday. Thursday evening, he was still there, with dog, and with the same placard.

I reckon you were taken, I'm afraid.

WorraLiberty Mon 29-Oct-12 18:35:25

She was honest about her situation and admitted she wasn't homeless but she needed help, you chose to help. No need to feel like a mug, if you could afford and you wanted to give you've done a nice thing

How do you know she was 'honest', given the amount of professional Romanian beggars in Westminster?

They're often part of organised gangs who travel in from the suburbs every day to make a killing.

Sad but true.

expatinscotland Mon 29-Oct-12 18:36:12

Many are working for organised gangs.

There's no such thing as karma or innocent little children wouldn't get horrible things like cancer and people like Jimmy Savile would've been stopped long before he did the things he did.

Yeah, you were conned.

cozietoesie Mon 29-Oct-12 18:36:27

beggars

CaptainKirksNipples Mon 29-Oct-12 18:36:34

I don't give to anyone after I stood in my local shop behind a beggar swapping £60 in change for notes and saying to the cashier 'not bad for a couple of hours work' . cashier was glad for the change but he said working in a shop would have had to work at least 10 hours for that!

akaemmafrost Mon 29-Oct-12 18:37:01

No it was lovely of you. Trouble is there are organised begging gangs and it's likely the money went straight to the ones at the top and she saw none if it sad. You are not a mug though. You are compassionate.

mutny Mon 29-Oct-12 18:38:02

yep you have been played. She has given you story people warm to more. Lives with family, apologies for begging, uses 'honesty' as a hook.
you seem very nice and well intentioned but next time buy them something if you must.

LynetteScavo Mon 29-Oct-12 18:38:36

You gave to someone less fortunate than yourself. And I bet you give to charities as well. You probably made her day. Don't feel bad, if you could afford it.

Some people I know give £20 to buskers. They can afford it. <shrugs>

Personally I never give money away, directly. I will buy a big issue though, and give to charities.

whistlestopcafe Mon 29-Oct-12 18:40:11

I would not give money to someone who potentially is part of an organised criminal gang. Sadly it is people like you that contribute to organised begging. I'm not having a go at you OP but that is the situation.

Give money to shelter, buy the big issue and donate unwanted goods to homeless shelters don't give money to someone who is unlikely to see a a penny of it.

Viviennemary Mon 29-Oct-12 18:40:26

Well you are a very generous warm hearted person. I tend to err on the side of not really trusting people which isn't always a good thing. I think you should keep your money for charity and only give £1 or so to beggars.

akaemmafrost Mon 29-Oct-12 18:40:34

I once gave money to a girl sat outside McDonalds in Nottingham with a child, she had the cheapest clothes on, not even a decent coat and the baby was asleep. It was Christmas Eve and she looked utterly desperate sad. I gave her everything I had, only about £10 but it was about 15 years ago so worth more and she got up and went straight away. I hope so much she got some benefit from it and that at least she and the baby weren't hungry for Christmas.

You are a kind person and you meant well. I live in central London and I never give to people begging but I do make a monthly donation to Shelter instead. If someone is hungry I would buy them a sandwich and I'd pay a kid's bus fare rather than see them unable to get home but I don't give money beggars because some are not genuine.

earwig1 Mon 29-Oct-12 18:42:03

Live and learn...at least it provided and opportunity to talk with my kids about begging, and later I did explained to them how I should have given that money to charity instead...

Catsnotrats Mon 29-Oct-12 18:43:01

Honestly she probably was Romanian Roma (most women wear headscarves but aren't Muslim). They do work in organised gangs, I work with many of these families who I have a lot of respect for, but begging seems very ingrained behaviour.

I would say though that those who work the streets don't earn 'a fortune', again based on what I know of individual families. It seems most of the money goes to gang leaders, and that the women in particular have a pretty crappy time of it quite frankly.

I wouldn't describe you as a mug though, you did something out of an act of kindness.

Incidentally Bosnia has been safe for at least 10 years - all former refugees in the uk will either have returned home or have taken uk citizenship (someone correct me if I'm wrong on this point!).

This is what my borough has to say about it
www.westminster.gov.uk/services/policingandpublicsafety/crimeandlawenforcement/begging/

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