Sunday 13 November 2016

#173 A chocolate swirl brioche

Outside every supermarket in London, there's a homeless person. I get a lot of my groceries from supermarkets, so I'm always walking past those guys. What they usually do, as you'll know from your own encounters, is ask for some change. 

It's understandable that some people give them cash because afterall, they're presenting as homeless and not having a job, so if people don't give them money to buy food and however many hot drinks they have (if I slept outside, I'd probably want twenty cups of soup a night) then won't they, like, die, or something? 

On the other hand, I read that three quarters of them are on drugs and probably have free access to food and shelter if they want it but all they want to do is buy substances that could eventually kill them and by giving them money, the drugs are pretty much the only thing you're funding.

So what's the big deal? Just give them small amounts of money occasioanally. I call it uncertainty-adjusted behaviour. This approach might be viewed as inhumane and overly simplistic though because surely one must take a look at each specific homeless person. Use your eyes. Use your gut. Read some articles. Talk to people and become wise in the ways of charitable donation. Surely. Life is busy for many people though and making time to learn about such specific topics isn't always top of the list.

Giving food always seems like a good balance. For most people this is probably sensible. I eat so much crap though that I do find myself wondering, did that guy really need that chocolate swirl brioche? I mean my diet just about keeps me alive enough to sit around at room temperature, trudge back and forth to a desk job and write shit on the internet. Homeless people need to be on army rations. 

Imagine if supermarkets had a section dedicated to those sleeping rough and customers could donate at the point of sale to give them the things that would help them most. The supermarket could even be blatant about it and write "help get rid of the person sitting outside our store" and customers could leave small donations. Then when the donations reach a certain level, the person could be carted off to a hostel and given therapy and noodles and stuff.

I'm not saying that you can fix every problem with therapy and noodles, I just wonder if the supermarkets could be more "in your face" about what they're doing.

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