Letter: Down and out

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The Independent Culture
Sir: My definition of a professional beggar is someone who chooses to beg for a living when other more generally acceptable options are open to them (letter, 13 December).

No amount of playing with words can conceal the fact that most of the beggars working the Tube are probably no worse off than the rest of us. They are in reality demanding money in a menacing way from passengers who are unable to avoid them. Amongst the other hazards of public transport, it is now necessary to make sure that you are in a carriage with plenty of other people when travelling on the Underground during the day. If Peter Forster wants to give to beggars he will find plenty of opportunity to do so in the street without exposing his fellow travellers to unpleasantness.

Christian charity involves giving in a regular and responsible way to alleviate genuine need and suffering, not handing out money indiscriminately to anyone who asks for it.

There are frequently collections by recognised charities at many Tube stations. Perhaps London Underground could be persuaded to install permanent collecting boxes by ticket offices or barriers and urge us to put our money there rather than giving it to buskers and beggars.

MONICA HALL

London N19

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