Prophecor, you were homeless?
Then you are the best person to advise on this subject.
I am soft hearted, but dont always give money. But when I dont I feel totally selfish and cruel, knowing I have money in my pocket, food in my fridge, and a safe warm bed to sleep in.
I know all the arguments about 'they will only use it on drink and smokes', and I think to myself arent they allowed the same vices as the rest of us, id probably want a drink and a smoke if I was homeless. On the other hand, i resent seeing young men sat on the pavement doing nothing. They are the strongest members of society - they are never going to have more strength than when they are young adults - its only ever going to get harder. They should be using all their energy now to turn their situation around, not sitting on the pavement. Then I feel guilty for being so harsh in my mind. Who knows what its like to feel so powerless and worthless.
Even when I give, you cant give to everyone. In Bristol you can pass 6 to 10 homeless people in 1/2 an hour. At some point on the journey you have to stop handing out those £ coins.
I have also given food. But its not always possible to have food on you when you are shopping in town (6 to 10 bags of sandwiches??!!)
I ease my conscience by sponsoring a child in Africa (its quite expensive), and by the fact that I support my mum, who has been poor all her life (I have given her a small sum of money every month for years).
But I still feel awful when I walk past those homeless people. They have my deepest sympathy, I just dont know what to do about it.