An Asian Christian woman living in London blogging about the everyday issues of religion

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

What Would You Have Done?

On my way to picking my daughter up from school today I was approached by a woman who asked me for money. Beggars are a common occurrence in London but what was different about this woman was the fact that she was under-dressed for the cold weather, she was skinny and had a gaunt look about her. She told me that her 5 week old baby hadn't had any food for 72 hours, she was starving herself and could not afford to turn on the heating.

She even went as far as to tell me that she couldn't breastfeed successfully and was on the point of whipping out her breast to show me that she was leaking milk. I stopped her at that point and gave her money. I couldn't bear the thought of a starving baby.  The fact that she felt she had to prove her predicament to me made me feel that I had to, in turn, prove my humanity to her by telling her not to do it. I have no regrets about giving her the money even if, by any chance, she was telling fibs. It was obvious that she was in a desperate situation of some sort.

Her story is entirely plausible. Many are going hungry in this country and more so will after the welfare vote yesterday which will bring into legislation a 1% cap on the rise of benefits. A few weeks ago my local foodbank put out a call for baby food and I responded.

With all this in mind I erred on the side of caution and gave her money but something still rankles within me. Why is it falling to individuals to plug gaps in the poverty gap caused by bank bail-outs, welfare cuts and public spending cuts? As a Christian mother I would still do the same if approached by someone else but it angers me that a mass vilification of the poor and desperate is taking place against a reality of wide spread suffering.


  1. You ask what we would have done. I reply, just what you did and, in this town, where I have been approached more than once in a similar way, I would have bought her a hot drink and a sandwich and given her the address of the local "Vineyard" church, which will almost always feed and occasionally shelter those in real need.
    I agree, this should not be the solution, but failing all else, it is the only humane response.
    Sadly when governments, politicians and local councils fail, someone has to plug the gaps.

    1. Thank you so much Ray for giving me your opinion on what you would have done. She did suggest that I go to the shops with her and purchase what she wanted but time was tight for me. I looked up Vineyard churches and there are a few in London. I shall explore this further.