MONEY MORAL DILEMMA: Should you give cash to the drunk homeless man?

Here's this week's hypothetical situation for you to cogitate on:
Should you give cash to the drunk homeless man?

For a few months you've been helping out Pete, a friendly homeless man who you walk past on the way to work. He's always friendly and polite. Then one day you pass him and spot that he's got a couple of six packs of strong lager hidden away and is downing one as you speak. Should he be free to do as he pleases with your money, or are you simply hurting him by pushing a possible habit. Would you turn down his appeal next time?
Click reply to have your say

Previous MMDs:
Do you charge house guests for breakages?
Should Rebecca come clean about David's baguette?



  • McKneffMcKneff Forumite
    38.6K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper
    I dont think i would give him money, but if i walked past him everymorning i think i would pack an exta couple of sandwiches in my lunch box for him.
    Or put a fiver behind the till on a monday morning at the nearest cafe for a cuppa.
    make the most of it, we are only here for the weekend.
    and we will never, ever return.
  • robpw2robpw2 Forumite
    14K Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    no to money but yes to other things you could buy him

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  • Yeah, why not? It's not for me to judge how he lives his life - and maybe alcohol helps him get through a day on the street.

    On a general note, I don't tend to give money to beggars unless they are sitting down - after the time I got my purse out to give someone "spare change" and they grabbed it off me and took all the money I had. :rolleyes:
  • I don't tend to give money to people on the streets - I do feel guilty, but I'd prefer to help out in other ways - if I'm going to McDonalds, get the free cheeseburger with my student card and give that to someone, for example ;) or packing an extra sandwich, as mentioned, that sort of thing.

    As far as I see it, the money I earn, I don't expect to have to justify to my employer where it's going to. But when my parents occasionally give me money, if they wanted to know where it was going to, then I'll let them know. If I told them I was spending it all on booze, would I get any more? Probably not.

    Likewise if he had earned the money somehow, then fair enough to him, but as I gave it to him, I'd probably choose to not give any more, but help out in other ways.
  • SheepsterSheepster Forumite
    120 Posts
    Part of the Furniture 100 Posts Combo Breaker
    I saw a really good advertisement in Blackpool - it told people not to give to beggars, but instead to local charities who worked with beggars.

    Fraid a local ex-beggar blew the gaff in the local paper quite recently, revealing how just about every beggar in town was really begging to finance a drug habit.

    We work really hard, and it rankles to be expected to give to beggars, some really nasty aggressive ones.

    Having said that, if a beggar approached me and asked if I'd buy him food (Not money), I would take him to a shop without a seconds hesitiation.
  • jscalowjscalow Forumite
    297 Posts
    Get them a can of spesh. he/she has nothing else, even though it is morally wrong to do so at least they will see it as an act of random human kindness and may put a smile on there face for a brief moment.
  • haziechaziec Forumite
    379 Posts
    Yes totally agree with the posters who said they would give food. I work in an A&E and I know how hard it is for some of these people to get off the streets as we see them regularly, some have ended up there after a heartbreaking time and yes,they most probably have drink/drug problems so hard cash will not really help them. There are some marvellous street rescue charities like Thames Reach in London who would appreciate a donation or even a call about the person you saw so that they can go and see them and try to help.
  • kah22kah22 Forumite
    1.7K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper I've been Money Tipped!
    The question is misleading. Read the question carefully the heading says: Shouldyou give cash to the drunk homeless man? but then it goes on to clarify the situation and say that: 'For a few months you've been helping out Pete, a friendly homeless man who you walk past on the way to work.'

    If I were to be presented with the heading only then I would say 'No,' you should not give cash to the drunk homelss man.' I'll accept there are exceptions but this would be my starting point.

    However when you read the full question it is obvious that you have been giving money to this man for some months and you have therefore set up in this vunerable person an expectation that he will receive a benefit from you.

    It is obvious that the person making the donation is a careing person, otherwise why give money on a regular basis? I would suggest, therefore, that the most obvious solution would be to stop and talk to the man, find out on a one to one basis if he has an alahol problem, or if this is just a one off.

    Given that he has a drink problem then I think you should stop giving him money and tell him that you will pay for a meal at 'Joe's Diner.' or wherever and make arrangement with Joe to give the man some food

    If you talk to the begger and form the impression that he has not a drink problem, that this is not usual behaviour, and if you have only spotted it after a number of months, then it is quilte likely an occasional event, in that case I think you should continue to give him the money and let him decide how he is going to spend it. Ask yourself the question; if one of your friends got drunk would you walk away from them, possibly if it was a common occurance, hardly likely if it was a one off

  • I think this is rather easy, actually. I like to give to area charities (e.g. Salvation Army, etc.) Then the next time Pete (or any other homeless folk) come ask'n, you've a super reply, " I give money to the Salvation Army. If you'll find them they'll sort you some food 'n such. " This allows you to genuinely give a damn, supports organisations that do good, and show the person you care (whilst not enabling their more debilitating habits). Voila.
  • I don't give money to people on the streets. I have every confidence either:
    a) They're gonna spend it on drugs and booze or
    b) They're a professional begger, probably earning more than I do

    Would be more likely to give money to a charity to help them in a "big picture" kinda way....but tbh homelessness isn't high on my list of priorities for charitable giving...Poor Pete, he's not getting a lot of help from me...
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