To help or not to help beggars
by sbssolution

It’s illegal to beg in Singapore. To go around such restriction, people uses tissue paper to exchange for money. There isn’t any price tag for the item and everyone can contribute any amount. There has been an increase in “tissue paper sellers” lately. The people selling them are either the elderly or the handicapped. Luckily,  no one uses baby or children to beg here. What is worrying is that, begging trend will grow if not controlled. In addition, it could attract unscrupulous party to exploit the generosity of the public. They could start by recruiting more people fitting their criteria to populate the street, shopping mall, tourist attractions, and more to solicit for money.

The government tried to stem the “tissue seller” trend by introducing license requirement to sell tissues. The unpopular move failed due to resistance from the public, and hence the problem still persist.
Not long ago, there were fake monks soliciting alms in the form of money in Singapore. Fortunately, uninterested response from the public to donate prevented these fake monks from flourishing. In order to control begging similar response from public will be needed.

To those who thinks giving money to beggars are alright, it’s the least proactive means to help these people. Givers are not helping them in the long run. Instead,  they create a reliance and dependency (if not addiction) of beggars to handouts. There is no sense of achievement nor pride to them who received handouts. These beggars are akin to zoo animals being reliant on handouts, stripped of the sense of usefulness (and pride,  I’m emphasising). Giving money to beggars are the lazy way out.

I’m respectful to those who are taking the time to volunteer and do social work. They are the real help. Instead of giving money to those who flunked/failed at money management, social workers help by managing the difficulties faced by the people in need. These volunteers take charge in aspect of medication, housing, necessities, and emotional needs. These volunteers know the government machineries that cater for needy people.  These volunteers are able to direct needy people to the right kind of help. They make sure every money spent gives the maximum return.

Again, to those who gives to beggars.  How are you to be sure that the money you have given doesn’t land on a gambling table?  How are you sure that the money will be spent on the following month’s house repayment? How sure are you that the money will be well managed? You don’t. You just felt better because you “gave”.

Last,  it isn’t difficult to search for Singapore social volunteer homepages and register with them. It isn’t difficult to search for Salvation Army homepage to register as volunteer. It isn’t difficult to contribute your money to the right coffer and people. Just start looking.

Just a thought.

To add to the above:
Singapore Association of Social Workers
Singapore Red Cross
Touch Community Services
Reach Community Services Society

Scheme to help the needy cope with transport fare (Reach webpage)
Elderly and needy get help to prepare for GST hike (Touch Community Services)

ComCare Call line at 1800-222-0000 (through this line, concerned public highlighted the plight of jobless beggars to the relevant party for help). Visit this page under Ministry of Social & Family Development for more information regarding begging trend in Singapore and how the relevant agency controlled this issue.

What else you can do to help?
 Volunteer in fields you are able to contribute, e.g. if you can give free tuition, why not? If you are able to spend time to play and talk with the elderly, why not? If you can help mobilize and accompany the needy during their visits to hospitals or checkups, why not? If you are able to write and contribute to highlighting the plight of the needy and the proper channels to contribute any form of assistance, why not write? If you have the expertise in counseling, why not give an ear and contribute your skill?

What you can do without
Showing negativity.