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

(385 Posts)
TheSeventhHorcrux Fri 01-Feb-13 20:33:36

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!


AgentProvocateur Fri 01-Feb-13 20:40:01

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?.

TheSeventhHorcrux Fri 01-Feb-13 20:46:25

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?

TheSeventhHorcrux Fri 01-Feb-13 20:54:13

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.

TheSeventhHorcrux Fri 01-Feb-13 20:57:56

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?

HoratiaWinwood Fri 01-Feb-13 21:05:18

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

SquinkiesRule Fri 01-Feb-13 21:15:43

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.

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