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Homelessness and street begging

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  • a cruel way of life
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      20.06.2013 05:37
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      It's tougher out there than it has been in a generation.

      I've worked in the homelessness field for around 14 years now. If I'd been asked ten years ago whether it was more beneficial to give money directly to homeless people or to give some other type of support, I'd probably have opted for the latter. I'll explain why this would have been my opinion ten years ago and why it has changed now.

      When I started working in homelessness, in a large city, it was a positive field in which to work, full of possibilities for supporting people by tackling some of the root causes of homelessness. My first post was funded by the Rough Sleepers Initiative, a pot of money set aside to fund projects working directly with people who were sleeping rough or at risk of sleeping rough. My background is in addictions, and I was involved in activities such as admitting people to crisis accommodation in which they could access detox facilities, health care and longer term housing.

      At this time, there was a real and growing network of support. If I couldn't directly provide the services someone was looking for, I could always think of another organisation who could. There were projects providing hot meals, clothes, showers, medical care, emergency accommodation, crisis mental health support and so on.

      Fast forward to 2013, and the landscape has changed beyond all recognition. Social care budgets have been slashed, innovative and creative services have closed down and homeless people have fallen foul of a tidal wave of blame aimed at the most disadvantaged members of our society. I'm still doing crisis work, but it is more challenging than ever, because the network of support is largely gone.

      There are many and complex reasons why people become homeless. Most of the people I work with have experienced addiction problems, family breakdown, trauma, ill health, violence, stigma and social exclusion. It is important to try to keep in mind the sheer complexity of a life spent dealing with these issues, and the calamitous effect they have on things like confidence and social skills, when imagining how difficult it is to try to make lifestyle changes. Yet, in the current climate of austerity, homeless people are being told things like, 'You can't access rehabilitation services, because you were given the chance before and it didn't work out'. Now, it takes the average smoker something like 6-10 serious attempts before managing to give up, and yet people with serious drug and alcohol addictions, compounded with all these other problems, are being told they are failures for wasting public money.

      More and more of my service users are being found fit to work, despite having absolutely no experience of working, no confidence and no references. I have a whole career's worth of experience and references and I struggle to find work in the current climate, yet service users are judged capable of going out and securing opportunities that don't even exist.

      The Bedroom Tax has, of course, affected single homeless people as it has affected all sorts of other people. Even when a single homeless person overcomes the odds and achieves the stability needed to impress the housing services, there is usually nothing available that is affordable.

      I think we're seeing a return to the level of crisis rough sleeping that was there a generation ago. I've recently been in the position of having to explain to people that I was unable to access as much as a sleeping bag for them.

      I'm sure that in time, and when this period of austerity is over, some political bright spark will propose an initiative to end street homelessness. Depressingly enough, this will involve recreating the wheel, as so many really good supports have been thrown away in the last few years. Until we have a safety net once again, I'd have no qualms about giving directly to our rough sleepers, who have precious few people on their side right now.

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        05.09.2011 17:36
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        Society fails

        The statistic above I heard whilst listening to the mass media. How is this possible? You may well ask.

        Watching Kaiser Report gives us all one answer. The homes in question are investments and are not for habitation by the new owners. They are from abroad. The is as you need 27 times the average wage to buy a property in central London. 60K being the average wage and 1.6 million the average price of a house. As wage have not risen in thirty years but in some areas house prices have doubled every year for thirty years there is a problem. London is the crooked baking capital of the world and so attracts all the world crooks even drug cartels all are welcomed in order to make a quick buck. The government is in on it as it allows the banks to get away with their crooked schemes with out fear. in fact the police have been told to keep away from the City of London's bankers.

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          19.06.2010 19:28
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          Homeless people - are they genuinly so unfortunate that they have nobody to turn to?

          Although some people are homeless because of unfortunate circumstances, most of the time when i see an homeless person asking for money i am in doubt about whether to give the person money of not. I'll explain why:-

          When i look at a homeless person i always think "Is this person so unfortunate that they have nobody to turn to in times of need or has this person done something that has made it that way?". I'd like to think that if i was made homeless i could go and live with friends or family a while until i could earn enough money to find my own feet.

          So why can't this homeless person do the same? Do they not have friends and family they can turn to? Or have they driven them away? Homeless people are often associated with alcoholism or drugs, although i know that this is not always the case, how do you know who is genuine and who is just looking for their next fix? How do you know you are not helping this person to destroy themselves?

          Most of the homeless people i come across often ask for money for shelter and not food. How are you to know if they are telling the truth or if they are just saying that so you don't go into a shop and buy food instead of giving them money for their addiction?

          If i have spare change i tend to give homeless people a little but would never give a lot as you never know the circumstances regarding the homeless person and if they are telling the truth or not.

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            15.05.2010 19:18
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            This is just in my opinion, everyone has their own.

            Personally, I haven't much experience when talking about homeless people, I have not seen that many but when I do it makes me feel so sad!

            There is one man who sits outside the local bingo at closing time hoping that someone will give him something as most people do seem more generous when they have won or gained money. I have never seen anyone share with him though. Personally I will not give him money, this may seem selfish what I say but, I wait until the end of the bingo and go and buy him 5.00 worth of food and give that to him along with a cup of Hot Chocolate or Coffee. You may be wondering why I wait until the end, I do this because the food is cheaper, not because I am tight and will not pay but purely because it is the same food as 5 mins ago when it was full price but this way I can get him twice as much and hopefully that will fill him up for the night and maybe have some for the next day. I do not do it for grattitude (he is always to intoxicated to acknowledge anyway!) I do it because if I were to be in that position I would hope that mabe someone would help me.
            I refuse to give money as I know that there are facilities and hostels in the area and they will give him food so if I were to give him money he would spend it on less resourceful thing, not that it is any of my business but I do think to myself, what if I was to give him enough money to go and get himself something strong and alcoholic and then (touch wood) he was to get runover or be involved in a fight or dispute - was the alcohol that i funded to blame......?
            My partner gets annoyed (not that I listen anyway), in his opinion Homeless people do not have to be Homeless, personally I disagree, there could be any number of reason why a person is in this situation and it is not for people to judge but maybe to help!?
            Also if I ever see a person selling a Big Issue I will always give them the 1.00 for it but will never take the magazine and to be totally honest, I do not know why I do this. When I was younger and even now to this day, when walking past a seller my Nan does the same and I suppose I have just followed her lead without question and started myself.

            I think people who avoid homeless people and discriminate against them should have a long hard think about what they would feel like if it were them or one of their own, or even maybe take 5 mins to think why the person could be homeless, when you stop to think things seem a lot different to what you first thought!

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              24.02.2010 20:25
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              It's easier to judge than to try to understand

              When I was young, I remember being on holiday somewhere and seeing a very solemn looking homeless man sat on the floor. I wanted to give him some money, he had a dog and I think that improved his appeal to me, but I was discouraged by my step dad. The reason for this? "He'll go and buy alcohol with it".

              Whenever the topic arises, this is still his opinion. And I know it's an opinion he shares with a lot of people. I've heard time and time again people speak negatively of homeless people, calling them "tramps", "bums", or other derogatory terms. One of the main reasons for this belief seems to be that, in their opinion (rightly or wrongly, I don't know) homeless people CHOOSE their homelessness, that it's their own choices and their own fault that they're homeless, and to give them money is a bad idea, because they're all alcoholics and don't deserve your money for booze.

              This opinion never really sat well with me. Yes I know a lot of homeless people are alcoholics (can you blame them?) and that people's choices CAN lead to homelessness, but rather than look down on this fact, I find it sad and I'm glad that I will never be in this position - I feel safe in the knowledge that, whatever goes wrong in my life, I will always have people around me to fall back on. I can only assume that, these homeless people, at least the majority of them, don't have that.

              Being born and raised in a kind-of-small town I never had much experience of homelessness. In my town I only ever remember there being 2 homeless people there during my childhood (and seeing the one I mentioned whilst on holiday), and now the only person I'm aware of in this town is the 'big issue man'.

              The first homeless man I saw, he was lying inside a shop doorway tucked in his sleeping bag - I was about 8 at the time, I had playfully jumped into the doorway, only to discover this man lying on the floor. It was the first time I really understood that being homeless literally meant you didn't have a home. I remember being bemused by this, a bit scared, and also saddened. I think for 'city kids' they're brought up around it and perhaps desensitised to it to an extent?- I'm not sure whether that's the case or not, but even now each time I walk past a homeless person I feel a horrible sort of guilt for not helping (I realise you can't always help). If somebody falls we help them up - and a homeless person has perhaps had the biggest fall, and yet people rarely help, instead insisting "well he'll only buy alcohol with it!".

              My first REAL experience of proper homelessness came when I spent a year in Barcelona. The homelessness there, as far as I can tell without really having much first-hand experience of it in Britain, is in a different league, and yet the locals still claims the homeless buy alcohol with your money, and still in general look down on these people.

              Most of the homeless people I encountered in Spain were foreign, possibly there illegally. Also most of the people had horrific injuries and disfigurements, a lot were women and most were older than their 30s. I never saw an obviously drunk homeless person or one who was smoking - but I did see a 'fake' homeless person looking for easy money - one of the most disgusting things I've ever seen. Anyway, a lot were possibly incapable of working, and I imagine those who weren't incapable just wouldn't be offered a job anyway (with the current recession even people with homes are struggling!)

              The most shocking thing about the homeless people in Barcelona is that when you look at them you immediately understand they didn't choose this. Lots of people say that homeless people are on the street by their own choosing, their own fault - that they became alcoholics and lost everything, that they behaved badly and were disowned by their family, that they just don't want to work ... or whatever reason. But take one look at the homeless people scattered around Catalunya Square, the very centre point of downtown Barcelona (and several other locations within Barcelona), and you don't see choices.

              You see the man sat beside his crutches, he's about 60, I've no idea what is 'wrong' with him, but he has no shoes on, one foot is covered with a dirty, holey sock, the other is wrapped in a dirty bandage and is swollen to about the size of football. I wonder why hasn't been to hospital, and I wonder if perhaps he has and can't be treated?

              You see the old woman on the floor, bent over a photo of her family - she has 2 daughters - she doesn't speak but you can tell she's foreign (as in, not Spanish) - she looks in pain, both emotionally and physically and she doesn't say a word, she just nods ferociously if you offer her something to eat.

              You see the woman who props herself on a small pillow outside the bank every afternoon. She sits with her head down. Behind her is a wheelchair - she has no legs.

              Walk a bit further and you pass a man, I've no idea of his age, he has severe scarring covering most of his body and face and he moves only slowly. I wonder what happened to him, where he got his burns, and I wonder would anyone employ him?

              I walked past these same people nearly every time I left my house, because they lived literally 1 minute from my flat. That's why I know what these people look like, I know that they never look up and I know I've never seen them smile (except for the woman in the wheelchair - the cafe on the end of my street give her a cup of coffee each morning, I don't know if she pays, but I know they bring it out to her so she doesn't have to wheel her way around the small space inside - as she talks to them she smiles and laughs - she seems like a nice person). It's a shame that the Spanish Prime Minister, or someone else with power to change things, doesn't walk past them, and the thousands of other homeless people in Spain, every day - perhaps they wouldn't have to be there if he did. And the same goes for the UK.

              I don't know how these people got their injuries, I don't know what things they've been through in their lives, I don't know the mistakes they've made or the choices they've made and I don't know why they became homeless or for how many months or years they've lived on these streets, but I know that day after day the only way they have to survive is to sit on the hard, dirty floor and beg people walking by for their money.... and so yes, I believe in giving money to the homeless. I've seen the misery and hopelessness in their faces and, if I were in that situation, sat on the dirty floor, in the boiling heat, on my own, every single day of every single week, that 1). I would only be there if I truly had to be, and 2). I would want people to help me.

              I don't think giving money is enough. I walked past these people (and others) every day and if I were to give to them every day I would soon have no money myself (to be honest I was on a poor wage and borrowing money from my flatmate as it was). I don't think that these people deserve to spend their lives looking at the floor - I think the answer is with the government, but that's something that I'm not involved in and don't understand. I think there need to be agencies that come out onto the street and help these people - offer them food, shelter, and opportunities. I think this does happen in the UK and maybe that's why in my few visits to London I've only seen 1 homeless person. But in the year that I lived in Barcelona I never saw anyone (as in, a homeless organisation) approach these people and try to help. Unfortunately I don't have any ideas on how to make this possible. I tried looking into volunteering in Barcelona but with me not speaking Catalan I wasn't very successful - I think there are some places in Barcelona they can go and get help - but if those people are still sat there every day begging for money for food, is it enough?

              I don't know where these particular people sleep; I only see them during the day. I hope they have somewhere to go and someone to go there with. But near to my flat, walking the other way to Catalunya Square, is a wide doorway, about 3 metres in width, and 4 homeless people lay there on cardboard, covered with blankets, each and every night. If you walk around the city you'll see several people lining the streets, asleep in cardboard boxes.

              My flatmate told me a story of another woman who, long before I got to Barcelona, would sleep inside one of the bank doorways next to a cash machine. He told me that one night a group of drunken guys walked past this woman, saw her sleeping inside her cardboard box, and set it alight, killing her. Would they have done the same had they not known she was homeless? Would it have made her more of a person to them?

              I'm not saying that we should throw our money at homeless people (I do think a lot more has to be done and I know it mostly falls on the government).... but I think it's far too easy to look down on these people and claim they're less of human beings than 'we' are. The issue of homelessness shouldn't be ignored, there should be places for them to go and people to help them.... but as long as there ISN'T that in place for them, why not give them a bit of your spare cash in order for them to eat that day? And if they spend it on alcohol, well, if they feel that bad that the only way to block it all out is to get drunk, well I'm not too fussed if my money went towards that either.

              So basically- I know that the homelessness I saw in Barcelona is perhaps more extreme than anything here, there are a lot of injured people, a lot of illegal people and the government is, as far as I'm aware, much worse than our own with these issues and there seems to be a lack of voluntary organisations too. But I know homelessness is still a huge issue in the UK and a majority of people have negative opinions towards homelessness. My point is - whichever country homeless people are in, I don't think we should judge them without knowing their story.

              It's easy to say that homeless people choose to live on the street, but is it really the truth? Would you choose it?




              Feel free to comment, but remember this is just my OPINION, and I'm as much entitled to it as you are to yours. Thanks!

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                23.01.2010 12:11
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                Once I got used to being homeless, I found it easy to get on with life and never went hungry.

                I used to fear the homeless, believing them to be violent people with mental health issues. Don't ask me where I got this idea, but it was just in my head.

                As I got older, I used to give to the street beggars I believed were genuine.

                And then unfortunate circumstances led me to being homeless myself.

                At first, I spent a few months in a women's refuge hostel before finally being "rescued" by an ex of mine who lived in the USA. I stayed there for a few months before returning back to England and being allowed back into the family home (it was my ex step-father that was the problem) with the promise I would get a job and avoid seeing him.

                This worked out for a while, but problems surfaced again - some my fault, some not - and at this point, I had a very serious undiagnosed mental health problem. My family just thought I was difficult.

                I left the family home of my own accord and went to stay with friends. Everything worked out for a few months. Eventually, me and my friends just started to drift apart and I went off, back to the women's hostel.

                I got back on my feet fairly quickly, found myself a job and eventually met someone nice. As nice as he was though, he was also homeless. And young love grew, encouraging me to leave the hostel and live on the streets with him.

                I did, and it wasn't awful at first, because I still had a job. A lone night worker in a hotel meant I could shower and eat there.

                I eventually lost my job (mental health caused me to do crazy things) and was stuck on the streets as I had willingly left the hostel.

                I live in Manchester, I always have. And being homeless in this city isn't a terrible thing. You make friends with other people and we looked out for one another.
                Food was easily come by as a charity had set up a day centre, providing three square meals a day. There was also a soup van at nights, providing tea, coffee, biscuits, sandwiches, soup and sometimes other food.
                And then there was a separate place we could grab a full English fry up on a Tuesday morning.

                Churches and charities provided us with sleeping bags and we were allowed to shower at the day centre.

                Safety was always a huge aspect of living on the streets, and at first, it was hard to find safe places to bed down.

                While all this is going on, I was receiving Jobseekers Allowance and crisis loans which went on alcohol mainly. A few times, I did reduce myself to begging outside Spar for a little extra alcohol when I had blown the Jobseekers.

                I tell you all this because apart from the obvious part of being homeless - street sleeping, safety and warmth - food is easily come by and the homeless do receive other forms of money.

                I'm back on my feet these days, after being diagnosed and began understanding how my condition affects me, to take notice of the warning signs and to educate my family. I have a beautiful little girl and I'm living back at home with my mum - without my ex stepfather.

                So no, I do not give money to the homeless anymore. Because most of the time, there can get their head down in a hostel, they do get money and have an option for extra money in real emergencies and they don't need to buy food - I actually got fed better living on the streets than I did at home.

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                  10.12.2009 00:17
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                  help ours then help others .... its what the british are about ... so lets start with our own.

                  I live in Blackpool and seem to find seeing homless people and street beggers a thing of the norm.
                  And whilst this is happening all over England I find it disheartening.
                  Not just because of the person begging but because it shames me at times to say I'm British.

                  Now dont get me wrong, the reason behind my feelings is because i think the government do far to much to make sure that we look after those that are entering the country instead of looking after our own.

                  The saying is "charity begins at home" unfortunately i think the government have overlooked this. I do agree that there are certain charities out there that do help and look out for some of the homeless but i have encountered some of the homeless at the local salvation army and whilst the salvation army do what they can they can not do everything, if you talk to some of the homeless people some are in their situation because awful things had happened and they ended up where they are through sometimes no fault of their own but feel to proud to go cap in hand, to these organisations.

                  Most of the people that i have encountered would love to be off the street and working but its another red tape thing by the government , you can not work without an address , and you can not get an address because you do not have a job to pay rent etc , but if we put ,( when i say we i mean the government ,) as much effort in to looking after our own than the outsiders maybe we could make an even better U.K that could the progress on to helping others.

                  Let us do what we can with what we have who knows , the next street begger you pass or help , could well be the brains behind some sort of great invention , so doing the best with what we have you never know what could be achieved, its like another old saying
                  "cast out your loafs and watch them come back sliced and buttered"

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                    25.09.2009 21:55
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                    More needs to be done to combat homelessness.

                    Its close to impossible not to encounter a homeless person on almost every street corner in New York. The subway system is flooded with people begging for food or money. While there are some people who genuinely appear like they deserve sympathy, I often times also find myself constantly encountering people who clearly abuse drugs to a point where they're in a terminal condition. You develop this mentality that homeless people in general are lazy or will just use your generosity to buy booze or narcotics. Its a cynical way to look at things, but I find myself being less likely to donate to people these days because I feel as if many are just trying to scam me.

                    On the train, you usually get stories - people telling you about how they lost their jobs, can't feed their kids, their home was destroyed by a fire, don't used drugs, lost a limb in an accident, and so on. At first I found myself digging into my pocket to help these people. But it almost becomes a show sometimes. Every passing week, its like I see the same few people, with the same problems and no progress. You wonder if the person really did go through those horrible experiences and if they ever intend to pick themselves up and stop panhandling. I'm not sure if they can't find a way out or are lying. And of course you feel terrible when you see a person digging through trash to eat someone's rotten leftovers.. but what is my dollar going to do for them other than get them a candy bar or something that won't even leave them satisified?

                    There are numerous credible organizations that help provide shelter, clothes and food to the homeless - I just don't know which ones they are. Sadly though they cannot always facilitate the massive amount of homeless people that come to their door and must turn them away. I'm also worried because I always hear about corrupt charities. It makes me nervous about making a donation because I really don't know how much of my money is really even going to help people.

                    These days we're living in tough economic times and I really can't afford to give someone a dollar or two on the train every time and I find myself just doing what a lot of people do - avoid eye contact, ignore the person as they speak directly at you, crank up the volume on my iPod to pretend I can't hear, or close my eyes like I'm sleeping.. Before I used to rationalize it as a good deed of the day, but now its become more of an annoyance.

                    I think our money is better off going to organizations to help them expand and be able to accomodate and help more people get back on their feet, rather than just give them a bed to sleep on for 1 night. The system itself is broken. The homeless always remain homeless and out of luck. Begging or going to shelters really doesn't help because they'll never get out of that rut. Like I said before, I just don't know what organizations can be trusted. There really doesn't seem to be much information available out there. You'd have to go and hunt it down and do all kinds of research.

                    There are homeless people in every part of the world but I think 1st world countries like the US need to tackle the problem head on and create a system that helps the homeless rise up. Its like that whole saying about "give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, you feed him for life" type of thing. All we're doing right now is feeding people for a day - then they're back to being miserable on the streets. We're not doing enough but I think the cost of being able to really help the homeless is probably far too high especially with the rough economy.

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                      21.06.2009 12:22

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                      Note: This is NOT a Premium ReviewHi there,The below mentioned is the way I "handle" people who have fallen in this state of poverty and/or hopelessness, and feel that there is no other way for them to keep "body and soul together", save to beg in the streets . . .1) If they ask me for money and I can see or sense that they are sincere and their need is real, I will give, immediately, whatever I can.2) If I am, at all, unsure what to do, I will give . . .3) It is only in circumstances where I am as convinced as I can possibly be, that by giving them money, especially, it will be completely wasted on them, that I will not give them anything, but I will always, always still be polite to them.Thank you for reading!Mayan820.

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                      15.06.2009 12:27
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                      Always keep an open mind.

                      Touchy subject this!
                      We all believe we know best about such situations. Reckon I did too until an occurrence that changed my mind.
                      I live in a well heeled town in the Midlands.
                      Very little homelessness or if there is someone seems to keep them out of the public gaze. Seriously.
                      We used to have one or two, one, a young man always in the same spot.
                      My elder daughter who was about 18 at the time and with very little money used to talk to this guy.
                      One day she asked him how he was and it turned out he had the opportunity of changing his circumstances. He had been invited to a job interview up North. The problem was he was short on the train fare.
                      Yep, you know what's coming.
                      My daughter asked him how much he needed. The sum was about £10.
                      So she gave it to him. He asked if she would be willing to give him her address so if he got the job he could send her the money back. Again she said yes (I know, makes you shudder at the thought).
                      The outcome?
                      He did actually have an interview, he went, he got the job and yep, he sent her back the ten pounds with a note of thanks.
                      So I try not to lump everyone into the category these days when I see a homeless person, cos you never really know do you? Dooyoo? Hah.

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                        01.06.2009 10:15
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                        Have to be careful with how we help them.

                        Homelessness. I find it extremely hard to comprehend how they live, I have been very sheltered - always had food on the table, a roof over my head, warmth and a bed to sleep in. The neccesities, and of course more - mobile phones, laptops etc.
                        I used to live in the countryside - all the way up to age 18 when I moved away to Cardiff city for university. I feel quite awkward and sorry for them really. One man in particular, it was raining really hard, and he had tucked himself into the doorway of KFC, obviously for a reason.
                        I went into Cafe Nero and bought him a cup of coffee. I felt so sorry for him. I am the type of person that would bring him home and get him showered and into some warmer clothes and some food in his belly - but obviously its just not safe to do this.

                        Most homeless people have dogs - I will never understand this. Obviously company and things like that - but how do they get them? How do they manage to feed them aswell as themselves? And I also find it quite cruel to the animal (obviously I care about the human too but why make the animal suffer aswell?) .

                        Outside my university there is a little "underground" tunnel, and 3 men usually sit in there most of their days and sleep there I guess, away from the rain. But every time I pass them they are really drunk. I have major issues with this. I can understand that drinking alcohol will keep them warm and help them to forget - but sometimes I think it just masks the problem. And I do not want the money I may give to them being spent on booze!

                        Big issue sellers - there is one man who makes such an effort. He has a dog, over christmas he put little tinsel on the dog and work a old santa hat. When wales were playing rugby, he has the welsh flag painted on his face (I asked him how he got this and he said that he had to sacrifice 20p of his begging money to get it done by some people in the streets who were doing it). Bless. I often buy a big issue off of him because I never see him drunk or anything like that.
                        Being a student, I don't have a huge amount of money, but when I am having a McDonalds - I get a free burger with my student card. So I give this to a homeless person. And with Cafe Nero, sometimes Ill get a free coffee, which Iwill give to them again. But usually I won't give them money outright, as I dont want them buying booze with it.

                        My nan used to work in a homeless "group" type thing where the homeless people would go in and have a bowl of soup and bread and a cup of tea. Me and my nan used to do some volentary work there. You get to hear stories of WHY they are homeless. Things like being disowned by their families is really hard.

                        Charities - people walking up and down the city getting money for them - no I don't like this. But volenteering to cook for them etc is better.

                        It's a difficult subject, because unless you know WHY they are homeless you don't know if they are deserving of help. I personally would not give a homeless person who was a drug addict of alcoholic any money at all. And I wont know which one is or isn't - hense why I will give them food or coffee instead.

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                          14.05.2009 12:38
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                          ..

                          Homelessness and street begging is a big thing these days for so many reasons. I have many opinions on it and thats down to the people I have seen randomly on the street or people who I know who have been through it for whatever reason.

                          I remember once when I was about 8years old walking through a subway with my mum as she was walking me to school, there was a young girl sitting there on the cold floor with a chunky green coat wrapped around her. She sat there looking so innocent, and asked if we had any spare change! Now I'm not made of money and never have been but I've always considered myself very generous in most cases, and I used to love when I was younger giving people my odd pennies, in situations like this one, and if I had things in my bedroom which I didn't want anymore I'd love taking them down to my local charity shop. But this particular girl has stuck in my mind ever since. My mum and dad didn't have money for alot of luxuries, but they coped with general household bills, and keeping me clothed, fed and warm. I didn't have all the brand named gear though which "my friends" wore. I just had basic black shoes for school, and a basic coat, nothing to swarve and fancy. This girl though who asked us if we had any spare change, even at the age of 8, I noticed she had brand new Kickers shoes on, well they were clean enough to look brand new. Peaking out from underneath her chunky, dirty looking green coat was the Adidas logo and stuffed behind her back was a bottle of a cider! I've always remembered this!

                          This actually is my main reason now for not giving people any spare change I have when they ask for it whilst out in the street. If the money was to be used on things which are needed such as food, water, a bit of soap so they can keep themselves clean somewhat. You know I would want my spare change to help a little. Not keep up a drink or drug habit, or keep somebody in named brands like that girl!

                          I don't know what I'd do though if I ever became homeless, how are you supposed to cope. I know plenty of people become homeless because of families, abuse, financial problems, people running away from their problems, possibly to different cities etc. So it's not always easy to find a place to stay, or to keep themselves off the streets. I do know nowadays there are alot of hostels etc for people who are homeless, there are hostels specifically for families, and ones aimed for younger people or single people etc. Housing associations I know are also not in a hurry to house people in many situations. Even if they are homeless for some reason or another people come up above them. As for being jobless, there is Jobseekers Allowance you can claim to see you through some strife before letting yourself go. Of course I'm not saying it would solve all your problems and pay all your bills but it would help, just for that period of time where you are seeking a job.

                          Many a time I've walked on by people sitting and begging, and yes I have felt guilty afterwards. I try make myself feel better by thinking that my spare change wouldn't have solved that persons problems, which is true, but for whatever reason that person has had to sit there feeling humiliated literally begging for somebody's loose coppers in their pocket.

                          Another thing which possibly angers me sometimes about people streetbegging is, of course the whole drugs and drink habit. If people are sitting their begging for money surely they need to feed themselves and keep themselves clean. My Nana took me out once, she has never given someone a penny who sits on the floor and begs for it. Instead my nan buys them a roll, or a bar of soap, as patronising as it seems she believes it is something that would help them out more than just handing them loose pennies. That time she took me out there was a long haired fella sitting on the floor with his 5 dogs. He is very popular where I live, everyone knows him as "the homeless man with the dogs!" He has got to have been in this situation now for years. My nan bought him a bacon roll. He took it off her, looked at it and threw it on the floor. Yet we seen him later on that day with a bottle of vodka and his 5 or more dogs in tow! Surely the bacon buttie would of been needed a slight bit more than a bottle of vodka ?! Yes it was feeding him something, and that wasn't his hungry belly, instead it was his dirty habit which possibly made him homeless in the first place. But who am I to judge?

                          One half of my brain says don't help them, they can help themselves. The other half of my brain says don't be so bloody stupid, how would you be if you became homeless, well of course I've never been in their situation so how can I judge. We all do things in our lives whether we are homeless and street begging or not. So why when I see a homeless person am I quick to judge on why they are drinking, taking drugs, sitting on a floor, picking up pennies etc. I'm not homeless yet I drink?! I've never taken drugs but I know people who are not homeless who take drugs like it's the latest fashion craze, I've sat on a floor in places and I still pick up pennies to put in my penny tin. So how am I any different. I've just managed to cope with whatever situations have arised in my life so not to let myself fall too much and totally let myself cope. I don't know how I would cope if I had been kicked out of my house, if I couldn't get in a hostel! What if I was being beaten, abused? How do I know how I'd react what's to say I wouldn't end up running away, far away with no money, begging people for money. Feeling like life was all on top of me and there was no way out of this dark hole and turning to drink or drugs to make me feel normal. It's when I think like this that I realise really I have no right to snigger at people sitting there on the streets, or in your local shopping town, asking you for your money. It's me that shouts at the TV when I see snobby people look down on working class people, when again we are no different to celebrities, and people with hell of alot of money. Our number 2's smell the same as theirs is what I always say!!

                          I decided to write this review as homelessness is a bit of a touchy subject for me at the moment as I have to be out of my rented accomadation mid June as I can't afford it - well I can afford the house but then I can't afford to buy my boys clothes etc and there is no room for me and my twins to go back to my Mum and Dads house so I will probably have to go into a family hostel until I am housed. Maybe my views will change hell of alot when I've gone through this daunting process come June but until then this review is portraying my opinions just on what I've seen and what I've been brought up to believe etc.

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                            23.04.2009 00:53
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                            Help should start at home!!!! :-@

                            STOP ASSYLUM SEEKERS!!! Thats the problem!!!!!!!!!!!! You have people coming into our country on the back of lorrys, coming into our country "seeking assylum", they get given a job, a home...albeit not a wonderful one yeah...but whats better?? That or street begging?! Been made to get your pet dog to dance to music in the streets!?

                            If we STOPPED assylum seekers coming into the country and sponging off our benefit system, making out they're hard done by in their own country for marrying the wrong person, or by cheating on their husbands...well I tell you what....live by your own countries rules and take the punishments you will recieve for going against them.!!! I know this will get me some bad comments for this piece, but its the gods honest truth!!!

                            We have sooo many British people on our streets, the whole situation of can't get a job as they don't have a home, but can't get a home cause they can't get a job! The housing association has an 18 month waiting list and doesn't work on priority unless you have a severe disability. And the council won't do a damn thing unless you've been made illegally homeless...but for example, if someone lost their job when living in rented accomodation and could no longer pay the rent, and they then were evicted, your classed as "intentionally homeless", and the council won't touch you....even if your homeless, unless your pregnant, disabled (or apparently an immigrant) you won't get a house for months...and anyway...you still have rent to pay when you get there anyway...!!! But theres not enough help out there for people like that!

                            I am not the type of person who will walk past a homeless person and give them all the money in my purse, don't get me wrong, I do sometimes think that when I see them with a pack of cigarettes in their hand, that its obvious the money I give will be wasted. But my feelings come from my own experience, we were very very close to been made homeless, getting evicted from our flat due to some issues which are too complicated to get into here, but as we were "intentionally homeless", I wasn't pregnant, and neither of us is disabled, the council put us in a "band D" rating, and told us there was no point in even attempting to apply for houses as we just wouldn't get one!!! And the housing association told us we had to wait 18 months for a house with them ... if we hadn't found ourselves another private landlord this week who would give us a house within our budget, we would have been living on the street!!!!!!!!!!

                            And its very VERY annoying when I then see that assylum seekers from wherever come in here from France in the back of lorrys and are allowed to stay here cause their own country is full of rubbish and they're going to "be killed if they go back", so what!?!?!?!?! Why are they now our problem!!?!?!?!?!?!

                            VERY annoying!!! Well, as I said, I am sure I will get many many mannnnyyyyyy negative comments about this, but thats my opinion! Help starts at home. I think our Government needs to remember that.

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                              25.03.2009 17:36
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                              Take a few minutes from your day to really make a difference

                              I have always had very strong views about homelessness and beggers, I thoroughly believe that we should do whatever we can to help and befriend people who are on the streets for whatever reason.

                              From a very young age I was always offering my food to the homeless. I remember one day when I was 7 I was in London, walking around with my dad, and I randomly gave all my sweets to this homeless man I saw sitting under a bridge. Granted, sweets don't exactly compare to a hot meal but it's the thought that counts!. Since then I've been able to do more to help, even if it's just sitting down and having a chat with some of the people on the streets. So many people walk on by and don't give these people the time of day and it can do wonders to cheer some of these people up by just having a chat and showing you care.

                              People often hold the belief that we shouldn't care about the homeless because it's "there own fault" and "they brought it on themselves", well I disagree with that. Granted, many homeless people may be drug users, but does that mean we simply ignore them?, surely nobody would be so petty as to turn their back on another human being simply because they have a few problems?.

                              Another judgemental opinion that sometimes arises is the misconception that the homeless are all thiefs and/or violent. Throughout the 10+ years I've been talking to, giving food to and standing up for the homeless I've never found myself in a dangerous position. The people I've encountered have all been very friendly and kind. Many have actually offered me a few words of wisdom... these are people that have lived their lives on the streets and met all sorts of people so it makes sense that they're normally quite clued up on interesting facts, you'd be suprised!.

                              All I really want to make clear is that you can do so much to help the homeless. More often than not the homeless don't have families supporting them so they're pretty much alone in the world apart from the few friends they make whilst on the streets. Obviously I'm not saying you should all run out there and become best friends with someone who's homeless or donate all your time and money, but there are many little things you can do that will help.

                              1) Donate cans of food, etc to your church if they run a regular homeless event. There was a church in Ipswich that was always looking for food donations so they could afford to feed the people who couldn't find warm food elsewhere.

                              2) Spend a few minutes chatting to beggers rather than simply treating them as though they're invisible, they're people to... I doubt you'd be over the moon if people continuously ignored you too.

                              3) If you have objections about handing over cash to beggers, please donate some money (every little bit helps) to a charitable organisation that deals with trying to educate and help people on the streets, offering them an address so they can find work, etc.

                              There really are numerous ways you can help, you really could make a difference to ones persons life.

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                                22.03.2009 20:07
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                                wouldnt give them any of my money

                                I dont believe in street begging in the slightest, i know that i havnt ever been in a situation like that, and perhaps im lucky that i havnt had to ever beg for money as iv always been able to look after myself however even if i didnt have any money at all, i still dont think id have the guts to beg for it.

                                It must be one of the most degrading things you can do to get money to put your self out on a street like that and have others going past gawping, gossiping about you or just crossing over the street to avoid you completely.

                                I myself have never given any money to any one who begs and i never will do, i may however give money to a home less charity who actually tries to help people get off the streets but the reason why i dont give money directly to homeless people is because i know its not goint to help them in the slightest, sure it may pay for them to eat that night, or it may pay for some fags, booze or drugs to help them through the next few hours but then the next day there going to just need more money, and thats money iv worked dam hard to get, and thats why there not having a single penny of it.

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