Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Breaking from tradition…

Well I am not too sure that I can realistically refer to ‘tradition’ just yet given the relative infancy of my creation but nonetheless, this is certainly a move away from the intended spirit of my blog.

I always feel a little awkward and uncomfortable (for want of a better description) around people begging or frantically shaking charity collection pots in my face as I feel somewhat put on the spot, particularly when in close proximity to ATMs or queues in general.  In the typical instance that I don’t have any spare change, or even any money at all about my person, I am left feeling mean and uncaring which I find a little unjustified.  Although I am selective with my charity, reserving it for what I deem worthy causes or for those begging who make a bit of an effort (be it genuine pleasantry to passers by, selling the big issue, singing or even just refraining from throwing curses and insults at those who decline assistance or don’t give enough) but I wouldn’t consider myself miserly or cold hearted. 

Whilst I don’t expect those in need of a little help to behave akin to a performing monkey, nor be overly grateful for any assistance given, I do appreciate some minor recognition that, for the vast majority of society, every penny in a persons pocket has been worked for and usually isn’t in abundance (especially in the current austerity).  I accept that thankfully I am fortunate enough to never have been in the position where I have had to resort to appealing for financial assistance from anyone (other than a bank or my parents) so I acknowledge that I am not particularly representative of the collective that I am passing judgment on.  Nonetheless, surely it makes sense to make those who you wish to give money to you relaxed, comfortable and willing?  So, particularly in reference to disgruntled recipients of spare change (where they themselves consider the amount given is insultingly small), every penny counts and by berating the giver for what you deem an offensively small pittance, just puts people off giving anything at all in fear of reprisal?

Anyway, back to the actual premise of today’s blog - as those in good old Blighty will be all too aware, the temperature has dipped quite considerably this past week and with the nights drawing in increasingly early (NB – daylight saving this weekend) standing around outside of an evening is hardly an enjoyable experience.  So whilst I had a mix of pity and rage (for reasons aforementioned) with regard to the homeless person camped out at the bus stop on my way home, I did feel inclined to give the chap a quid in the hope that it would at least get him a warm drink.  However, what happened next made me feel all warm and fuzzy (and more than a little meagre in comparison) – a young bloke cycled past and came to an abrupt stop, resting his bicycle up against some nearby hoarding.  He then trotted back and produced from his bag a rather appetising looking baguette, a fleece and a handful of cash which he promptly presented to the homeless person before, without pause, dashing off back on his merry way – a purely selfless act without any desire for thanks or acknowledgement for his offering.  

That made me ponder that such actions are undoubtedly far more appreciated by those in need and although a quid here or there toward a litre of cider may seem ideal in the short term, a good meal and some long term assistance at keeping warm wins hands down.    

So, breaking away from ‘tradition’ I am going to put myself in to check (and anyone reading this) and prompt one and all to go that little bit further to help someone out, especially during these tough economic times.  A vagrant existence isn’t exactly a lifestyle choice and perhaps I need to be a little less blinkered about how I am made to feel by those seeking charity, and concentrate more on just how I can make their day that little bit easier – be it a chat, a bite to eat, a coffee or just whatever money I can muster, however scant…


  1. It does make you think about our perceptions,when I worked in an A&E department in Ireland I would let some homeless wait in the warm waiting room just to be out of the cold and sometimes dispense hot drinks or sandwiches that were left over.

  2. so true ! beautiful blog, I do not like giving money to homeless as you never know where it ends up but I frequently give a sandwich or cup of coffee or so.