Rather than charity, empower others to help themselves.
In Colchester yesterday I purchased a discounted packet of sandwiches for a homeless guy. Fortunately the homeless people, that is those who sleep with no roof over their heads, can be counted on one hand in Colchester. I suspect that those that do sleep out do so as a personal choice.
Normally I purchase a magazine called Big Issue from a homeless news vender, which costs £2.50 of which £1.25 the homeless person keeps for themselves. I won’t give money directly to the homeless person since I want to be sure that he spends it on food not things like alcohol.
My default approach to all issues concerning helping others is not to carry them, but to build bridges, a means by which they can help themselves across the ravines of life.
I noted that plenty of the public gave money to the homeless person, and it is ironic that this approach encourages the homeless person to continue to depend upon the charity of others. This homeless person has been in the same situation for years, he has not taken much effort in my opinion of climbing out of his hole.
Another danger of trying to help people out of holes is they will take advantage, I have had two individuals turn stalker as they became obsessed with me. Another danger is that people will pull you into the holes with them.
Charities are another issue of concern for me. The people who come to me in the street, who “sell” the charity take two-thirds of the donations for themselves. The charities have become inefficient, spending too much money on administration and advertising, rather than the causes they were supposed to represent. It is a nonsense that charities are competing against each other in the same fields: Oxfam, Unicef, Plan, Christian Aid, all seem to address poverty in the third world.
I have an ambivalent feeling about the image I use in this blog. Rather than see this as a symbol of me actually carrying people to their destination, I see the “carrier” as a bridge, knowledge and practical wisdom, and the “child” as human potential. In other words if you are in the hole, I throw in the rope, if you are at the river, I will build the bridge, but it is down to you to pull yourself out of the hole, and it is down to you to walk across the bridge.