Those of you who caught last week's post will know I was planning to collect or buy gloves / scarfs / hats and snack bars to give out to those who needed it. Well, I went through my drawers and couldn't find any suitable items, so I went to my local pound shop and brought the last 3 pairs of gloves they had, grabbed some snack bars (I keep a big box of them for snacking on the go as vegan options can be short on the ground in some areas) and off I went.
After the first two attempts were a complete shambles - I gave one pair and a snack bar to one man, who was begging, said "thought you might like these". He then swore at me, calling me a "stingy b*tch" for not giving him money! My second attempt was with another man, who didn't say anything to me, so I walked away a short distance, then turned around, only to see that he had tossed them aside. They were still there on the ground two hours later when the man had left his spot. Due to this, I donated the last pair to a local charity shop. They were plain black/grey fleece - not exactly offensive or childish colours. I rather suspect that both men I approached were either on the street due to drug/drink issues, or more shamefully still, not actually homeless at all. I recall an article from recent years that said buskers and the homeless who beg in busy areas, such as the London Underground (Tube) can receive up to £10 an hour in cash donated to them by members of the public, which could make 'pretending' to be homeless very appealing as £10 is much more than I earn in an hour.
I think in future I will stick to buying copies of 'the big issue', make small change donations (although this carries the risk of funding habits) or will verbally offer a drink or item and see how somebody responds before I do anything.
Recently, I have been in touch with a woman named Carol, who works for Barnabus, a homeless charity based in Manchester. They are currently fundraising for expansion of their facilities, with a 'buy a brick' scheme for £5 a brick. For this week's activity, I will be purchasing one of these bricks. If any readers are interested in taking part in this, more information on Barnabus can be found at: http://www.barnabus-manchester.org.uk/ or to buy a brick yourselves, please visit: http://www.justgiving.com/brickappeal