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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!


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!

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 01-Feb-13 23:03:35

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.

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