Debate on begging

We asked:- Is encouraging people not to give money to
beggars the best way to address the issue?

These are some of the comments we

“Katie Leason’s article is sadly an example of very
selective reporting where she has clearly decided on the main
conclusions she wants to make without wishing unhelpful facts to
stand in her way. 

For example, the summary headline is entirely misleading when it
states that ‘those who deal with this group (beggars) are sceptical
about the policy (that is, the campaign objective) not to give
money to those who beg’.  There have been at least six campaigns of
this type in London alone this year and many more in other
metropolitan areas across the country. Each campaign has been
supported by different homelessness charities working directly with
beggars and the wider street population, including Thames Reach
Bondway, who are in despair at the waste of life as vulnerable
street people die from drug overdoses.  It is deeply depressing to
watch the dealer pulling away in their BMW after making another
sale to a street beggar, knowing that their income is in part
coming from kindly passers by.

The article quotes a statistic from a report called ‘Looking for
Change’. The statistic chosen is probably the only one in the
report that backs her position, although having spent time looking
through the report I was unable to find it.  What the report noted
were the following statistics:

86% of people begging reported currently using drugs (probably
an underestimate, the researchers suggest)
65% were receiving benefits
51% were in some kind of accommodation
68% had been begging for over a year
82% of the public would rather give money to a charity than a

This suggests that homelessness agencies (and this is no
surprise at all to us at Thames Reach Bondway) are working with a
group of regular beggars with serious substance misuse problems
many (and probably most) of whom are in accommodation, who are
using begging to supplement their income, with the public feeling
distinctly uneasy and wanting an alternative way of helping

This is the face of begging in 2004 and homelessness agencies
should not flinch from facing this reality.”

Jeremy Swain
Chief Executive
Thames Reach Bondway

“By not giving money to beggars, they are encouraged to find
employment and seek help from the various schemes, organisations
and charities that are there to help people in such

They can place their name on the housing register and are
eligible for social security benefits until they find suitable
employment.  By simply giving them money when they beg, we
encourage them to spend it on self-harm, such as drugs and

I agree it is a stereotype that all beggars spend their money on
such things, however it is well known that a significantly high
percentage of beggars spend their money on addictions that on their
own can’t overcome.  We as the general public need to encourage
them to seek help, not feed their habits.”
Arbinder Shinhmar
Home-Start Ealing

“The issue of begging is now taking a toll in our society. To
encourage people or not depends largely on the level of development
in each country.

Begging in a developed country can be outlawed and encouraging
people to do such a thing can be termed as hazardous because the
welfare of the people are well taken care of by the government.

In a developing country, people encouraging people to give
beggars money can be viewed from a different angle – maybe to
assist the beggars to get on their own feet or to keep their body
and soul together until government find a lasting solution to their

In an under-developing country, there is no need to discourage
people to give money to the beggars because those beggars are ready
to do something of their own, but are incapacitated to do so either
because of the situation in the country or the government are not
supportive enough.

One will find out that the largest number of beggars are found
in this type of country and Africa has the worst problem in the
world. The culture also permits them to be kind to those who are in
need and, coupled with what is going on in their region, those who
are a little comfortable tend to assist others.

In my own view with reference to the above submission, one can
encourage it in some parts of this world while in other part it
should be condemned totally”.

Adekunle Sulaiman


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