“ I met a guy, many years ago, who convinced me how ‘easy’ it was to earn £10-£15 day, begging on the streets as a homeless person……I did this and soon realised it was an easy option , on a good day I was earning £60-£70 day, enough for my M-cat and gear…
The majority of people bought me food, Subs, McDonalds, I ate better then than I do now , but my main priority was drugs. By 9:30-11:00am I had enough cash to buy my drugs, the more I earnt, the bigger my habit. I had an incentive to beg on the streets, I became greedy for drugs.
I did have accommodation, but made a point of dressing scruffy and taking out a sleeping bag, robbed cardboard from skips and I would sit and beg.
I had to fight for the best spots, other beggars would attack each other for the prime positions and even charge a percentage of the takings, it was all about survival, being strong willed. I got used to people looking, staring at me, I became immune to it.
I was conning the general public, originally I was begging for food, perhaps 5% and I was honest 50%of the time to the public, admitting I was begging to feed my habit. Some people were not very nice to me. I would blag to them I had lost my job, house etc and used this as a ‘con’ . Some knew that I was lying, knowing full well if I did not beg, I would shop lift or burgle houses.
Some beggars are in the faces of people, around 85% of the public are not stupid, they know the money they give is for drugs. They are guilty of feeding an addiction….they don’t see giving a tenner a problem, but it is, it buys drugs, they don’t see it as doing anything wrong, but addictions are built up because of people’s kindness. This is harsh for the public to hear, because they think they are being compassionate…in reality, they are doing wrong, killing them (the addict ) by their misguided kindness and generosity. The reality is, people die.
The police advise not to give money to beggars, they are trying to put things right and get beggars off the streets, to stop the crime of begging. When people donate to the beggars, crime decreases, but the drug habits keep going.becoming worse. More money, the bigger the habit. “
I went to prison for 12 months, the first thing I did on my return here, was score within the first 3 weeks. I had no dole money, so put on my scruffs, got a sleeping bag, and went into town, to beg. When people beg, their addictions go through the roof, eventually, they will die…..drugs kill people.
I am clean now, I walk down the street and I am disgusted at seeing others, dirty and skinny. I think, ‘that was me…’ I feel bad for thinking this, I am off the drugs and methadone and I now see my future, I want to get into college , enrol on a Counselling course, my experience can help others I am sure. And only 3 year ago, I was the one ‘ducking and diving…’
I live at the YMCA now, I have also stayed with the Salvation Army. It is now 2 years since I was street homeless, although I was out begging earlier this year. The general public need re-educating, they should buy food and drink for the beggars, the problem is ongoing, the police campaign is now yesterdays news, after a week or two. People arrested are imprisoned, this does not work, they need help and support, but must want to change. When it comes to stopping, coming off drugs, the addict has to do it for themselves, they can make all the promises in the world to friends and family, but in the end, they have to do it for themselves….
What changed for me ? Jail, life in prison has changed, ‘little spice heads’ (spice, a name for an illegal high) are running around, they are being attacked, the legal highs have kicked in reality for the older drug users.
I would have come off the drugs sooner if the public had not been so generous …”