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Wednesday 29 October 2008 2.29pm
Laphroaig wrote:
Gareth, did you miss my question?

Apologies Laphroaig I think I must. There is a Jobseekers Allowance amongst benefits which may be available with a number of conditions and with labyrinthian application procedures. This would probably be nothing to you or I but in many cases (often linked with mental health issues - 70% of homeless people have mental health problems) even filling in applications is a major problem.

I no longer work in the area of street homelessness but in a related field dealing with people in a social care environment who do have accommodation and even in that environment negotiating ones way through to (entitled) benefits can be extremely complex and take inordinate amounts of time.

One of the misconceptions, I think, is that it is assumed that there is a linear progression that leads to homelessness and any sensible person would be able to steer away from that end result at any point in the process. In many cases, peoples lives have just blown up in their faces, and however lame that might sound even the simplest things become virtually impossible.
Wednesday 29 October 2008 2.58pm
Thanks for the detailed reply. It's my sense that many homeless people had mental or drug/alcohol problems before they ended up on the street, which may have contributed to them losing their housing and jobs, and the reluctance of family and friends to help them. Do you think that's accurate, or am I way off?
Wednesday 29 October 2008 8.54pm
In a decent society certain behaviours are unacceptable. I'd include begging. That's not because I'm a better person than a beggar, it's because it messes up life for the rest. A side-product of zero-tolerance for begging is that it becomes much harder to contemplate as a way of life. The beneficiaries of that intolerance are potential beggars, especially the young. Bankers' bonuses are irrelevant. I quite understand that there but for the grace of God go I (so far) and that practical, voluntary, hard-headed charity is noble, but it's just a fact that tolerance or payment incites more. There is misery which tends to be increased by hand-wringing. The deeper answer is not 'social justice', but a civil society. That starts with what we see around us and the image we present to the rest of the world. Like others, I'm chary about engaging on this, but my patch round Shad Thames has been changed by beggars, and it's typed, so..
Thursday 30 October 2008 12.14am
I am very hesitant to enter into this debate as I am surprised at the strong feelings that have been generated. In our fifteen or so years of living in Shad Thames, despite the closure of the local Night shelter, I have not seen any change in the area caused by beggars. Where are they, what have they been doing? Do you mean that poor old guy who sits on the kerb as you enter Shad Thames by Tower Bridge or the young lady who appears to be reading a book a little further along on the other side of the pavement. There used to be drunks in the old Potter's Field before it was gentrified,they seemed harmless.
The offensive smells in some of the Alley ways in the area are more likely to be caused by the Guys who have been drinking in the River front Bars and Restaurants.
I find the sight of legless women and men staggering along Shad Thames at closing time far more disturbing. So in a decent society who is going to decide what is acceptable or unacceptable behaviour . I am thinking in particular of a well dressed young lady a year or so ago, absolutely p***ed making her way alone uneasily down Shad Thames, where were her friends and colleagues...to make sure she got home safely.
In a decent society if people can not even care for their own ,is it any wonder that individuals fall by the wayside, when events beyond their control come into play. The image of Government and Voluntary Agencies providing services to cover all eventualities is an impossibility

I do not know what the answer is, but from Shad Thames and in SE 1, you do not have to turn many corners to see that there are many different lives being lead, along side our own. Why pick on beggars though, the last ten years or so there has been more activity to remove the homeless from the public's gaze, are we now discriminating against beggars in a way that is politically incorrect in so many other fields.

Finally perhaps an effort of building more Public Conveniences in all our towns and Cities would be appreciated by everybody, not just the Homeless and drunken revellers.
Thursday 30 October 2008 12.21am
Briefly, having lived in Shad Thames 15 years too, your suggestion that beggars frequented the area earlier than recent years is wrong. There weren't the crowds to beg from. The 2 you refer to are beggars + others around the river restaurants. I'll pass on the "who's to say what's decent" debate.
If you don't know, I won't be able to persuade you.
Thursday 30 October 2008 7.07am
markadams99 wrote:
Briefly, having lived in Shad Thames 15 years too, your suggestion that beggars frequented the area earlier than recent years is wrong. There weren't the crowds to beg from. The 2 you refer to are beggars + others around the river restaurants. I'll pass on the "who's to say what's decent" debate.
If you don't know, I won't be able to persuade you.

I have to say I'm really struggling to get my head around this. To quote from your earlier post you think that begging "messes up life for the rest" and you made particular reference to Shad Thames.

You haven't refuted Nomad's assertion that there are actually very few beggars in the area. He mentioned two, in fact there are three regulars at the bridge end of the area. The lady who is often reading, Paul who sits on the kerb just after the bridge, and another guy who occassionally appears there too, when Paul isn't.

What I can't get my head around is how this "messes up life for the rest"? If you're saying that the existence of such a small number of people who occasionally sit quietly somewhere near where you live looking for bits of small change from passers-by messes up your life then I'd book an appointment with a doctor. It sounds quite obsessional.

It seems that you simply put labels on people because they do something that you find unacceptable without actually trying to relate to why they might be doing it.

I happen to stop and talk to Paul quite a bit, I never give him money but sometimes buy him a sandwich or coffee or go and make him some food (I also live in Shad Thames area). What he really appreciates is someone who just takes the time of day to talk to him. As a result I know a fair amount of his history: the ups and the significant downs and his attempts to get himself off the streets. Why does he keep coming back and "messing up your life"? Well it ain't because he enjoys it that's for sure.

Perhaps you ought to try engaging with them rather than simply turning your nose up at them. You might discover hidden empathy.
Thursday 30 October 2008 7.56am
garethpmorgan wrote:
What I can't get my head around is how this "messes up life for the rest"? If you're saying that the existence of such a small number of people who occasionally sit quietly somewhere near where you live looking for bits of small change from passers-by messes up your life then I'd book an appointment with a doctor. It sounds quite obsessional.
I suppose this vitriol is why I'm chary to engage on this, but I'll try:

1. Tower Bridge is the most famous bridge in the world (I write from New York). It's a symbol of London and Britain. Welcoming visitors to my country's sites with beggars goes against the grain. Moreover begging is illegal.

2. You know nothing about my charity, so can spare me your moralizing based on advertising yours.

3. Begging or loutishness or 'petty' crime, if tolerated, sends a message to potential beggars, louts or criminals - 'it's ok'. The people who are hurt most by this are actually those with whom you would empathize.

4. I do not appreciate my children's wishing coins being stolen by another beggar (not one you've mentioned) from the (private) fountain in the Piazza.

5. You may not care, but I do care that where I live is attractive. Begging is unattractive and is a recent but growing phenomenon there thanks to growing numbers of visitors and inaction by the police to enforce the law.

6. To expand: this could happen to me one day and I do empathize. There are varied routes to dereliction and providing a route out is one of the few pieces of social engineering I support. That's quite different.
Thursday 30 October 2008 8.05am
markadams99 wrote:
garethpmorgan wrote:
What I can't get my head around is how this "messes up life for the rest"? If you're saying that the existence of such a small number of people who occasionally sit quietly somewhere near where you live looking for bits of small change from passers-by messes up your life then I'd book an appointment with a doctor. It sounds quite obsessional.
I suppose this vitriol is why I'm chary to engage on this, but I'll try:

1. Tower Bridge is the most famous bridge in the world. It's a symbol of London and Britain. Welcoming visitors to my country's sites with beggars goes against the grain. Moreover begging is illegal.

2. You know nothing about my charity, so can spare me your moralizing based on advertising yours.

3. Begging or loutishness or 'petty' crime, if tolerated sends a message to potential beggars, louts or criminals - 'it's ok'. The people who are hurt most by this are actually those with whom you would empathize.

4. I do not appreciate my children's wishing coins being stolen by another beggar (not one you've mentioned) from the fountain in the Piazza.

5. You may not care, but I do care that where I live is attractive. Begging is unattractive and is a recent but growing phenomenon there thanks to growing numbers of visitors and inaction by the police to enforce the law.

Mark

Thanks for elaborating on your perspective, and apologies for moralising etc.

I might not agree with all of what you say, but at at least I understand more fully where you're coming from.

Cheers
Thursday 30 October 2008 8.11am
A most gracious response.

Cheers back.
Thursday 8 January 2009 3.03pm
Whilst I am hesitant to revive this thread which wasn't a highlight of goodwill in 2008, this may be of interest in the light of the original message which opened this thread:
http://www.london-se1.co.uk/news/view/3687

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