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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!


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

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