Sunday 13 January 2008

Give me spare change

Give me spare change and I may never get off these streets. Give to organizations that could really help me and you could save my life. It's up to you.

That is the advice from from Baltimore's Downtown Partnership on how to deal with begging/panhandling. I think it is pretty good advice, since your spare change can actually hurt the person by enabling them to delay seeking help. Unfortunately you can't avoid panhandling in Baltimore (or any major US city). Some more tips:

  • Make eye contact or acknowledge the person with a nod.
  • Politely say "no" or "sorry".
  • Offer to buy the person a sandwich, or offer food you are carrying such as boxed leftovers from a restaurant meal.
  • Volunteer, or donate to an organisation that helps the homeless.

The eye contact thing is important - I remember a Contiki guide in San Francisco (notorious for panhandling) telling me that some panhandlers had become violent just to get a reaction out of people. This was due to the person spending all day begging on the street where every person avoided eye contact, making them feel invisible.

No comments: