I have seldom been one for giving money to beggars. If Iwere a commuter at Tulse Hill station I would be even less inclined.
The busy south London station has been targeted byhomelessness charity Thames Reach in a campaign to end the practice, which it saysis akin to killing the recipients with kindness.
In an initiative with Lambeth Council, Thames Reach has putup a poster to highlight the fact that modern-day begging merely supports adrink or drugs habit.
The campaign is an extension of one that started in 2003when it had become apparent that the reason for begging had changed.
Homelessness re-emerged as an issue in the mid-1980s when theConservative government cut unemployment benefit to 16- to 18-year-olds andexpected them to remain in the family home until they found work (even thoughthey were also expected to “get on their bikes”).
But those who may have had family problems, perhaps as aresult of abuse, took to the streets, often in London doorways, to escape fromtheir suffering.
However, Thames Reach emphasises that begging should not beequated with rough sleeping – hence the campaign. Indeed the reasons forbegging have changed, and Thames Reach is trying to change the perception amongthose who “spare some change” that they are helping the recipient pay for anight in a hostel.
There is certainly a hard core of guilt-ridden commuters whowill always give, but the findings of a poll on Thames Reach’s website suggeststhat there are many more people who do not give than those who do.
Better still, says Thames Reach, donate your spare cash tocharities that really can make a difference.
Can that assuage your guilt?