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Beggars Waterloo/Borough

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Monday 20 October 2008 3.41pm
graham wrote:
I need to get this off my chest-
I really resent suburbanites and tourists coming to where I live, and promoting begging. Is begging illegal, is giving to beggars illegal?
Thankyou SE1

Begging is illegal, giving to beggars is not.
Monday 20 October 2008 7.57pm
Waterloo has always had beggars and I suspect will have a few more quite soon (once the effects of the credit crunch take effect). I tend to give most of them money, as I consider it a fairly miserable existence. In fact, there but for the grace of God go most of us, I believe.
The Big Issue sellers do have a code of conduct. The problem normally arises from thugs stealing the magazine and passing themselves off as the real thing. Check their ID, which is displayed on their chest.
I also agree with a previous poster that there are some fantastic characters amongst these people and can easily spare the money anyway.
As for how they spend the money, that's their business. In fact, if I took an attitude on drugs or alcohol, I would not be able to buy any music or stocks and shares…………
Monday 20 October 2008 8.10pm
he had an id number but what what good is that? does anyone manage them? personally i dont give to beggars as im sure it encourages them and there is plenty of welfare around courtesy of us lot...
Monday 20 October 2008 8.42pm
I admit I'm rather hard-hearted on this issue. San Francisco has a tremendous problem with the homeless. There are many programs to provide free food, shelters, drug counseling, medical care, etc. (In fact they are so generous that homeless people move there from all over the country--almost none of them is actually from San Francisco.) Nobody needs to go hungry. The people who ask for money spend it on drugs and alcohol (this is not speculation; I have heard them talk about what they're going to buy, and you can see the results any morning--comatose men on urine-soaked sidewalks (and far worse)). Many of them have mental problems as well. Most of the others don't have any interest in becoming regular job-holding members of society. I left the city for four years to go to graduate school on the east coast, and when I returned I saw exactly the same people on the same corners with the same cardboard signs saying "Down on my luck--just trying to get home". You can read up on this yourself on the San Francisco Chronicle ( site. The paper has done a number of in-depth reports on the problem. The current mayor was elected in large part because he promised to solve the problem, but after eight years (which included paying for one-way tickets home for a number of people), it's just as bad as ever, and a huge drain on city finances.

Personally I believe that all drugs should be legalized. The associated bad behavior (crime, driving under the influence, etc.) is already illegal, and people are going to use them anyway. All Prohibition did for the US was to allow the Mafia to become rich and powerful by supplying the prohibited substances, and to make average people who wanted to drink into lawbreakers. However, I believe that giving money to people on the street so they can buy drugs or booze is not helping them. If you're giving money because you really want to help them, rather than because you feel guilty, try buying them a sandwich. (But be prepared to have it thrown down on the street in disgust, which is the reaction I received after buying one for someone who told me he needed 75 cents for food. He wanted cash.) In San Francisco the people who give the homeless money are people who live in the suburbs and commute into the city for work, not the people who have to live with them. Most of the tourists are too scared to get near them.
Monday 20 October 2008 8.44pm
A Big Issue seller made me laugh when he asked me if I'd kindly give him the magazine back so that he could sell it on to someone else.With that sort of entrepreneural spirit he ought to do well!
Monday 20 October 2008 8.46pm
Ha! I'm guessing most people who buy them don't actually read them, but I did buy one with The Mighty Boosh on the cover--and read it!
Monday 20 October 2008 10.24pm
here we go again as james says. heated debate coming up.
i have to say that i am all for keeping it real and so on, but i have no tolerance for those who think they can urinate or worse on my doorstep daily and when they are being confronted you have to worry for your safety.

no tolerance either for those lingering around public spaces in huge groups injecting themselves in broad daylight with a dose of whatever.
dealing at the corner in front of children with not even blinking an eye lid.
sorry i would not give these people any money, it does not solve the problem in my opinion. it makes things worse.

i know this is easy to say, but if you live next to a hostel you do change your view on this matter.
and no i have no intention of moving them or me.

i don't have a solution for the problem, i just feel for the police who have to deal with the same people over and over again being insulted and physically threatened.
i also feel for those people who are working their hearts out in hostels to make a difference. it must be very frustrating.

one step could be to stop shopkeepers selling cheap booze in big quantities to be drunk in front of the shop right under the sign of the "no tolerance of public drinking" sign.
won't stop the drugs, but the drunks.
Tuesday 21 October 2008 12.03am
At least in Soho many of the regular beggars have flats but they consider the evening begging from tourists as "the job". Many use an old issue of Big Issue as cover, and don't even pretend to be giving the paper to anybody who gives money, as they only have that one copy. I know as I have personally talked with many of them when I was working around there. There was one lady that lived in my block here, as Southwark tenant and was begging around Holborn, at least she was not doing it on her doorstep. She has since been evicted, mind you.

I think it is obvious the only proper way to help people in real need is by giving to charities, as it is impossible to judge who is genuine and who is not on the street. In my eyes everything points to the majority not being genuine, with a few genuine Big Issue sellers suffering from the bogus ones.

I have to say some of the ones I see almost every day outside the Costcutters are friendly enough and even say hello, even if the most I have given is about half of my cigarrette (when I still smoked) before going to the shop. I guess a little friendliness goes a long way, as even the down-and-outs are still human after all.
Tuesday 21 October 2008 12.36am
One of the best lines I heard from a beggar was "excuse me, would you like to sponsor a tramp?"
Tuesday 21 October 2008 7.04am
I've posted on this subject before, because it's something that really worries me. (I was writing about the beggars at Elephant and Castle who rotate in the underpasses). Maybe I'm old fashioned (not maybe, I AM old fashioned) but I do believe everyone can do some work and all work is honourable. Sitting on the street - often with a rather well fed dog - seems to me just a cop out, rather than taking a job cleaning roads or washing dishes. I'm sorry that our social structure permits lying around on the street. And I agree that there are many homeless charities to which I gladly give and which should be encouraged and expanded.
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