Do you give money to street beggars?

  Cymro. 15:58 04 Feb 11
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There are many kinds of beggars on our streets and I dare say there will be even more while this recession continues. So the question is do we give or do we walk past?

Personally I do give to some. People such a buskers and those at traffic lights offering to clean your windscreen could be argued to be making some sort of effort to earn a living. I rather like buskers as they entertain me while I hang about outside shops waiting for the wife while she spends even more money

But with some it is difficult to know what to do. By giving them money we may be actually making their position even worse. There is no way to know if the money is to be made good use of or just spent on drink or drugs.

If we give nothing then beggars may make more of an effort to sort their life out. Are they begging through no fault of their own or simply because they are too idle to work? Is being an alcoholic or drug addict a self inflicted state? Is homelessness self inflicted?

Does it matter if they are begging because of their own mistakes in life? Should that even matter? Should we not always give to those that are obviously worse off than ourselves?

  Forum Editor 16:02 04 Feb 11

but my wife sometimes does. She says she feels sorry for them. I think they could get a job if they wanted to, but they can probably get more money by begging.

I don't consider buskers as beggars, some of the licensed ones on the London Underground are very talented - there's one amazing electric blues guitarist. I happily donate to buskers, they're working. Beggars who sit there with a dog and a mournful look get nothing from me I'm afraid.

  Cymro. 16:23 04 Feb 11

Yes I dare say that many of them could.
But Alcoholics and junkys are never going to keep down a job. Then there are those who should be taken care of by Social Services. Some of these landed on the street when the so called "care in the community" program came in.

I remember a bunch in Covent Garden some years ago. There they were beer cans in their hands listening to a very good group of professional street entertainers. It was a lovely summers day and they looked as happy as a man could be not a care in the World, drink in hand with entertainment laid on. There seemed very little else a man could ask for. They even had a very convenient wall to sit up against.

  jimv7 16:28 04 Feb 11

I had just finished shopping, when a guy holding a dog with string for a lead, stops me and asks for money to buy food for the dog, he got most upset when I reached into one of the bags I was carrying and offered him a tin of dog food.

  Quickbeam 16:34 04 Feb 11

And the ones with £200 trainers on are taking the pith.

  jakimo 16:44 04 Feb 11

London beggers are said to do very well out of begging, perhaps not quite as well in the Provence's.
A regular one man his dog begger in my local town is regularly seen going back to his parked car in a side street after his days work.

This one click here does very well

  Blackhat 16:51 04 Feb 11

I heard a radio article about 20 years ago about a London businessman who used a product called Boar Mate (a spray to encourage pigs to mate) to get an authentic tramp smell. He would go into London on the weekends dressed as a tramp (with authentic smell) and earn just as much as his day job.

I never give to beggars but usually do to good buskers.

One thing to consider though is recognition, especially the Big Issue sellers. They appreciate a nod and a sense that you are not just blanking them even if you don’t want to part with money. I heard about that last week on radio 2.

  IClaudio 16:57 04 Feb 11

I don't: buskers, possibly, but only if they are particularly good - picking out a few notes on a banjo is not enough to earn my hard-earned money (earned picking out a few notes on several instruments, which talent did not come easily...)

  BT 17:06 04 Feb 11

I accept that a lot of Big Issue sellers are doing it properly, but there is an issue in parts of South London with foreign women being 'employed' by a man who picks them up at the end of the day in a very nice Mercedes motor.

I personally had experience of a young couple with a baby who had travelled down from Northern England and were squatting in a council property, and travelling each day up to Central London to sell the BI around Leicester Sq,. Were making a good living from it, and boasting about it on the bus.

  interzone55 17:08 04 Feb 11

Some buskers yes, if they can at least hold something approaching a tune

Beggars no

Windscreen cleaners get a squirt of screen-wash in the face

  Bapou 17:08 04 Feb 11

There used to be sorrowful looking soul standing outside a supermarket selling the Big Issue. Each week I would buy a copy and be greeted with a smile and thank you.

Then one Friday and from then on he was nowhere to be seen, he had been replaced by an Eastern European woman who did not look so hard up.

One day in Newcastle' Northumberland Street I noticed a man bringing copies of BI to the seller. Out came a wad of notes, paid the lad and off he went. He was being replaced by an Eastern European woman as well.

They don't seem so hard up either.

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