On two occasions over the Christmas period where my job dictates I must attend many 'client Christmas drinks' session (all of which I thoroughly enjoyed I must say!!) I came across two different homeless people and had two different experiences. We're no strangers to the homeless community here at Network Marketing Towers having worked with Simon on the Streets for a number of years raising money to help them support homeless and rootless people in the Yorkshire area. However, when speaking to the people at SOTS and asking the question 'should you give to the homeless or shouldn't you?' their response is usually, 'It's up to you'. So, I generally do. (Take a look at their video if you are unfamiliar with them...) http://vimeo.com/37301834 The first situation was an older homeless person who came up to me when I was outside a bar talking to a client who was having a fag break (I don't smoke so it just shows my level of commitment to this job!!). He seemed like a well mannered chap and looked properly homeless. It was one of those bitterly cold nights a couple of weeks before Christmas and all I could think about was people sleeping rough on such a cold night. So, I had a chat with him,(he was from Wales and came to Leeds looking for a job), and then gave him £20. He was immensely grateful and said that would get him 4 nights in a hostel. After a couple of hugs of gratitude (which were truly unnecessary) he went on his way.
I am hopeful that he spent the money on the hostel. The second situation was early in the morning, a younger lad was near our office and looking a bit worse for wear. It wasn't such a cold morning but nevertheless not very nice. He asked for some money for a hot drink, I duly obliged and steered him in the direction of Starbucks where I hoped he would get himself some breakfast and a coffee or similar. As I was paying for my parking I looked over to where he was walking and he skipped straight past Starbucks and off in to town. It then got me thinking where he might be spending his cash and I didn't feel as confident that it would be in a coffee shop. So, I have been thinking about this dilemma and am generally happy with my decisions to give to the homeless. I know the argument will always be that you are encouraging homelessness but really, I am not sure there are many out there that would choose a night on the streets in winter compared to a hostel. And if they do, then they probably need something to get them through the night anyway. Jonathan Hirst