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Woman Begging outside Waitrose

2 years ago...

Not the girl who sells the Big Issue. An old woman sits at the bus stop with her hand to her mouth begging. Is this illegal? Why is nothing done?

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My understanding was that the concept of the Big Issue was to help get homeless people back on their feet and into permanent accommodation. The woman outside Waitrose has been there for years now and spends half the time chatting on the mobile she has tucked in her headscarf flashing her gold teeth. Sadly, for this reason I no longer buy the Big Issue.

Indeed. Most Big Issue sellers that I have seen in the Kingston area and in central London seems to do it perpetually.

The opportunity to make quite impressive amounts of money makes it very hard to get away from.

Anyone who has lived in this area for a long time will remember the Big Issue seller who used to stand outside M&S in Kingston shouting 'Big Issue Sir, Madam, Big Issue. He was exposed by the national press as making £70k a year over 20 years ago! At that point in time, you'd have had to have a very senior job to be taking home £70k after tax.

The Big Issue themselves were blamed for not controlling the amount of copies he was allowed to take. In fairness to him, what was he supposed to do - give up that income to go into a low/average wage job?

I think a lot of the current Big Issue sellers are in similar positions, perhaps not quite so excessive.

The people of Surbiton gladly handover money to Big Issue sellers and beggars who probably 'earn' more than they do themselves.

I didn't mean the woman selling the Big Issue. There is an old woman, probably her grandmother who sits on the floor, same place, cross legged, begging for money with her hand to her mouth. Not selling anything, just begging. Looks very old and possibly illegal. She is there on the days the Big Issue Seller stays home and counts her money. They probably have a Merc and a flat overlooking the river at Charter Quay. ..

I saw a woman begging in Kingston today, in Fife Road, black headscarf and hand to mouth. Then I saw a man give her a £20 note. I bet she couldn't believe her luck.. But she was still there an hour later!

I have heard anecdotally that some of the drunk/druggy beggars in Surbiton can make £250 a day from passers-by even though they don't really hide what they are doing.

If that is actually true, I don't see why a more deserving looking beggar could not make even more than that in busier Kingston. If I were a beggar and someone gave me £20, my reaction would be to stay out for longer rather than go home!

I think you'd be surprised how much a lot of homeless people make in and around London. On my 1 mile walk to work in central London, I pass four Big Issue sellers working their regular patches. Every time it rains, only one of them comes out to sell Big Issues! That tells me a little bit about how much money they make on good days.

What would you propose is done about it?

I haven't seen this woman outside Waitrose, but if it is the one I suspect it is, she can often be seen actually sleeping in Claremont Gardens overnight. She is not a fake homeless person like the guy who used to sit outside HSBC all day and his friends, she genuinely seems to have nowhere to go.

I never give money to beggars just in case, but I have given this woman food in the past. If she is a fake, preying on Surbiton's well-known gullible population then she is going to extreme lengths to look genuine!

There is very little in the way of a safety net for people like this, and I think we will see it more often going forward unfortunately.

That's good for vulnerable people

Perhaps that was the case in days gone by, but I don't think you can just walk in there and get a room anymore, you'd need to be referred by the council or courts.

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