27 July, 2005

Killing with kindness

If you have been following my blog, you will know that I have written little snippets about homeless people and begging.
On city streets not only in London, we see beggars sitting near cash point machines cafes and theatres begging. Some have what would seem to them as incurable habits to maintain. Some just want enough for a meal and some are what we call professional beggars. This is one subject that always seems to come to the fore whenever you mention begging. Professional beggars, how do you tell the difference? The simple answer to that question is you can't unless you talk to them or torture them Spanish inquisition style.
We now have these ad campaigns that say don't give money as your generosity can kill. The exact wording is
killing with kindness. Several times I have been asked to comment about this up till now I have avoided the question. So today I will try to give my honest opinion.
I agree with the sentiments of the ad campaign, but to try and stop people from begging is going to be a long arduous task. Some people simply have to beg to survive. All over the world there are beggars even in the richest countries and they probably have the same ad campaigns.

How it affected me personally well, I suppose you could say people's generosity kept me in my drug habit but the question is if people had not been so generous would I have turned to serious crime to feed my habit? This could have been the case as I was a heroin user for many years and one way or another I would have found the money to feed my habit. I know people say there are places you can go like rehab centers, which are usually full. It's a well known fact that until someone is ready to come off whatever they're on. They will remain addicted. It's the old saying you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. You can produce all the facts and figures about drugs and addicts that you want but how many times have you heard of a person going into rehab or prison and coming out clean but within a few weeks are back using whatever substance they where initially using? When you arrest someone for begging the only real thing you are doing is giving them a criminal record. The cost of treating an addict is escalating every year and at the last count there were an estimated 260.000 addicts. Now some sectors of the society are beginning to ask is it worth it. So I would say begging by addicts is the alternative to crime. Yes there is that chance that the money given generously to users could kill, but more people are killed on the roads than on drugs. I don't see an end in sight. I see beggars as one of the symptoms of the drug culture that has sprung up over the last forty years. I believe the governments we have had should have seen this coming when they stopped doctors prescribing. Governments that cut spending in this area have actually cost the British public more. Its not only addicts that beg, it's people that are hungry and homeless and for whatever reason need to. Should we decriminalise begging I would say yes because I survived in the later stages of my addiction by begging and not committing crime.


jomama said...

Unlike politics, begging is an
honorable profession.

Marian said...

I just started to work for a charity that support single homeless people, I have to say you are an open book to me, I felt I understood issues surounding homelessness but since reading you I still have a lot to learn... well done my friend