“Could you please spare some change to buy some food?” a grey haired man rings in my ear on the platform of the underground as I bite into my dinner – a pastrami sandwich.
“I’m sorry, I don’t have anything” I reply, whilst contemplating if it is worth giving him the pennies at the bottom of my bag or giving up my meal. The thought that it is illegal to beg or to give money to beggars on the underground runs through my mind for a split second.
As he struggles over to others on the platform, stick in hand and vomit smeared on his blue T-shirt, I look on and wish I could help.
The same thing crossed my mind last week as I sat in the beer garden for yet another leaving drink and saw an elderly grey haired woman about 60 rummaging through the bin. That time, I did give her the last of my change to which my colleague began a debate into if we should actually give money to “these people”.
“She proberly has a council house… why do you think she is in this situation?” His words rang through my ears and made my blood boil.
The reality of the situation is that there are homeless people everywhere – and you can’t help them all. Whilst some are genuine, he was right in saying that a lot of them do in fact have a roof over their head whilst other workers like us work all day to try and afford the rising rent prices in London.
Despite this, obviously the feeling of wanting to help everyone is present. During university I underwent a project to immerse myself with the homeless and learnt that a lot of people on the street are in a no win situation. They can’t get a job because they have no address and even if they try, they are stopped due to their state and appearance – causing them to take drugs to try and escape the reality of the situation.
Homelessness is a rising problem worldwide and many people don’t even bat an eyelid. But what if we could change the perception of homelessness and in fact benefits? Would it make a difference and what would it achieve?