I would like to add to the letter, ‘Concerns over increasing number of beggars’, published in the Opinion section of the Bulletin on October 1, by saying that while face-to-face may be growing widespread, we cannot ignore those who scour social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, seeking financial assistance from kind-hearted individuals.
I don’t know when it started gaining prominence; I hazard a guess that it was at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the future hanging in the balance, with frequent introduction of new restrictions, a lot of companies – especially the smaller establishments – had predicted a lean year ahead and countered it by slimming down their workforces.
While I commend the authorities for finding ways to helping the unemployed during those trying times, not everyone had the patience to go through the lengthy application process. It may well be easier to beg for money from strangers in order to put food on the table. Not to mention, not everyone is qualified for these aid programmes.
Now that we are heading back to pre-pandemic normalcy, with companies hiring again, it is fair to expect less beggars in commercial areas and on social media platforms. But it hasn’t been the case, has it?
So what gives?
Perhaps there has always been a mix of people who are truly desperate for money and those who are out to make a quick buck. And there is no real way of telling them apart.
Maybe the only way to approach this, as recommended by the authorities, is to nudge them towards official aid programmes, instead of sparing them the change from our pockets.