I just got back after a bit of a busy morning: I had a couple of things to do in Woolwich, where I also bumped into Matt B. I hadn’t seen him in a couple of months, so it was great to reestablish contact and set a few plans in motion. However, going along Woolwich high street, I saw something which puzzled me, and is playing on my mind. There are usually a few beggars and buskers along there, but today I saw a guy who obviously had CP. He used a crutch, and held a cap in his hand for people to put change into. I guess he was in his thirties, an immigrant, and wore a pained, helpless expression on his face.
Something about this man got to me. If he was disabled like me, then why wasn’t he getting all the support I get? Why was social services not helping him as much as they help me? What brought this man to the point where he has to beg on Woolwich high Street? I thought briefly about trying to help, but how? What could I have done, apart from going back to social services to tell them about it?
Yet I suppose there is another possibility. It looked like the guy had cerebral palsy, but if he did it was mild. Despite the cane he seemed stable on his feet, had enough balance to hold his cap steady, and his speech seemed clear. Part of me has to wonder whether he was really disabled, or whether he was imitating having cerebral Palsy for people to pity him. If he did have cp, why would social services not step in and support him? I certainly hope the uk isn’t a country which would allow people with disabilities to beg in the streets. Yet if he was faking it, that raises the question of whether people think having a disability is so pitiful that it can be used to trick passers by into giving you money. I must say I find that thought even more repugnant.
I don’t know what to think. Should I, being a disabled man myself, have tried to give him help or guidance? Perhaps he didn’t know about the support structures in this country. And what if he was just trying to look disabled for pity? Should I have felt insulted? In the end I did nothing, left him be, and went on my way; yet something about this fleeting incident bugs me.