Ask A Broadsheet Reader



The ‘Homeless Jesus’ sculpture outside Christ Church Cathedral’


‘Good Helen’ writes:

Maybe I woke up on the right side of bed, I dunno, however I thought if I can try and get some kindness out there to help others then that’s what I’Il do on this fine sunny morning.

Today – show one act of kindness to homeless people. I’m not asking to give over money or even in fact spend money. You can get something from your kitchen press needs be.

I am sceptical at the best of times to hand over money to a homeless person – reason being, I know some of them are using drugs/drink and I’d personally prefer not to be giving them the option of using it on that. So this morning, I simply asked a homeless guy if he would like something from the shop I was going into – answer was a huge YES. He was starving. A latte and pastry later and he was very happy and very much appreciative of the gesture.

What I’m asking is, If just a few people went up and asked when they were going in to buy their lunch if a homeless person was hungry and if they would like you to buy them something in the shop. It’s simple to walk past and go in and buy your lunch and go back to work. But just a little step over to the left or right and a little question to be asked might make this guy or girl’s day.

I would really love if Broadsheet would maybe put this up to see if this could maybe catch on today. I’m sure as its broadsheet there will be a lot of smart arse comments and I really don’t care. If one person even decides to do it that is all that matters to me.



54 thoughts on “Ask A Broadsheet Reader

  1. ZeligIsJaded

    Fair play Helen.

    Genuinely think it was a lovely post.

    I am though skeptical of people who are skeptical of homeless people who take a drink.

    If you would like a homeless person to have access to something that their present circumstance prevents them from having, why decide for them what it should be?

    Having said that – fair play again.

    No smart-arseness intended

    1. the good helen

      I didnt decide that, I asked him if he was hungry as i was going into the shop and wondered if he needed anything. He told me he was – he asked me for a latte and a pastry and I got those things. How is that “deciding for them what it should be”?

      1. ZeligIsJaded

        I was replying to this part –

        “I am sceptical at the best of times to hand over money to a homeless person – reason being, I know some of them are using drugs/drink and I’d personally prefer not to be giving them the option of using it on that.”

        Still though, like I said – Fair play, in fairness!

  2. Christopher

    Or you could do something practical like put pressure on your elected representative to actually do something about the situation- like provide drug rehab programs for homeless people and encourage them back into society (that does not mean doling out methadone and hoping they fall into the Liiffey or murder each other which seems to be the current policy) and also clamp down the beggars that are all around the city centre wrapped up in sleeping blankets to appear homeless when they all have houses to live in (watch them each time someone puts anything in their cups- straight into their pocket it goes so the next punter thinks “Ah Jaysus no one gives them anything! I’ll give him a euro and make his day! I’m a great fella ! Yay me! Conscience clear- back to mindless consumerism ignoring society around me!”.

    Sorry to be cynical but buying one “homeless” person latte and a pastry is not going to do anyone any good except YOU who might feel like you are making a difference but its temporary and distracts from the REAL issues at play.

    1. Pird

      Good Helen has provided a simple, practicable attempt to briefly improve the quality of life of people living on the street. If you want people to do something practical, give them something practical to do, rather than abstract demands to “put pressure” on someone elected. Who should people contact? Via what means? What specific goals should they be pushing this particular elected representative to achieve?

      Give people some writing points and the address of the person with the means to effect a change, and you’ll have a chance to help people. Broadsheet has a large audience. Submit your plan of action as a new story here and there’s a chance we’ll be able to pull it off.

      1. the good helen

        thank you, that is exactly what I was doing, and you know what, even if its arguments I get back, it hits out there and maybe even one person reading this might walk past someone later and think to ask is there anything he/she might need.

    2. Casey

      Something tells me that is the excuse you use rather than put your hand in your pocket to help someone out.

      You know people are capable of doing more than one thing about a situation, right? I can buy someone down on their luck a hot drink and a sandwich AND petition the government to provide more shelters for the homeless. Sometimes both on the same day and I am just your average thicko.

    3. Garp

      So tell me. How is that approach working out for you? Has your elected rep done all that you had hoped and more?

  3. Just sayin'

    Peter McVerry advises people, in his regular talks, to give money to homeless charities instead of to the homeless themselves, as they get a better bang for your buck. The price of a latte and a pastry might buy a lot more in soup, etc. to feed many more.
    I know you won’t get the same self-righteous do-gooder feeling, but you might give it a go.

    1. orla

      i dont think it’s about do gooder it’s about the autonomy of the person themselves. asking them directly what they want. maybe they dont want a shit ton of soup. as ZeligIsJaded said, why decide for them what it should be?

      1. the good helen

        exactly, I’ve been that person that buys something and just hands it to them. and I thought, and actually it was my 4 year old son said to me, mammy why did you give him that maybe he doesnt want it, maybe you should ask him what he wants. So I go by the words of my 4 year old who seems to know a bit more than me most of the time.

    2. Spaghetti Hoop

      Yep, I only give to charities now – usually via organised group events. After the 8 or 9 ‘homeless’ people that asked me for spare change last Friday evening, I just can’t tell who is genuine anymore. Pretty sure 7 of them weren’t interested in a latte and a pastry.

      1. the good helen

        maybe not, but this person didnt ask me for anything, nothing at all. he was homeless, lying reading a book and minding his own business.

        1. Spaghetti Hoop

          Fair enough, and you showed kindness.
          I’m afraid I am far less trusting and encountered too many gougers in this city. Prefer to donate directly to the people providing food and shelter on the ground.

  4. andydufresne2011

    My immediate thought was a Curb Your Enthusiam-esque awkard predicament where you buy them lunch one day and then go back to that place for lunch from then on. Do you just nod at them and wonder are they wondering if you’re going to buy them lunch again and will they be disappointed when you don’t or do you buy them lunch every day or do you find a new place to get your lunch.

    In Curb Your Enthusiam it would probably become awkward for the homeless guy and he’d sit somewhere else and Larry would follow him and have an argument with him.

          1. JimmytheHead

            Just be friendly, theres usually a few decent skins around the Dáil looking for a cup of tea or even just a chat. Most of them just miss being part of the human race so a conversation could mean loads to them.

  5. JimmytheHead

    Every time Ive a bad day in work (at least once a week) I stop on the way home to help a homeless person. Sometime with money but I always ask if they’d prefer something from the shop. Last week I helped a guy write a birthday card to his auntie, he couldnt read but had enough to buy the card. He was so appreciative he nearly cried! There is no feeling that can compare to this so if youve never done it then get out there now… and give yourself a pat on the back afterwards.

    1. Dubh Linn

      Sometimes you can be a bit of top nob on here but you obviously have a heart of gold and I find your account a lot more believable that the other begrudging comments on this post who insinuate all the beggers in Dublin are on drugs, should not be allowed a drink or have homes to go back to of an evening.

      Fair dues.

      1. JimmytheHead

        Appreciate that, thanks :-) really recommend it tho. Works better than going for a pint or cleaning your gaf when it comes to stress relief.

    2. the good helen

      and if people were more like you, wouldnt the world be a better place even just that little. Fair play jimmy. x

  6. Bazzamatta

    Gestures like this are really nice.

    Personally I’ll give money to homeless people on the street because I don’t feel it’s my right to decide what they spend it on. If they spend it on food, well and good. If they spend it on jars or drugs, also well and good.

    If you’re up for giving to the homeless, you shouldn’t give with conditions; takes away from the whole “giving” aspect.

    1. the good helen

      i didnt decide it was my right to tell him what he wants – I went over, I told him that I was going into the shop to buy myself something to eat, I asked him if he was Hungry and he said YES, I asked him if he would like me to buy him something to eat, and there was no doubt it was appreciated, Not pushed on him in any way. I didnt go in and buy him something on the off chance he was hungry, or expected that he was, I asked him. He told me what he would really like and I went and bought it. Its that simple.

      As I know this post would go both ways, Let me explain something. I can push for this government to try and do right, but it will take a long time – who say’s I don’t already do this? But in the meantime while the government are deciding what is right, there are people who are a brother or sister, daughter or mother who are starving and need something. Food, water I dunno.

      My point to this post was – even if I can reach one person on this today – to try and just walk over to someone who is homeless and ask them if they are hungry, Ask them if they would like something to eat as you are going to the shop anyhow, it might just make one person a little more happy on the street today.

    1. Janet

      How do you get to a vegans heart ?
      Through his vagina….

      Seriously though nice one Helen.

  7. Joxer

    Good Helen is Good.

    tell you what though and this is not an abnegation of responsibility at a personal level but lobbying TD’s should be contiguous to all these small little mercies. Society via legislators should strive to eradicate as extensively as possible homelessness and other problems. do the tea and sambo bit by all means but make sure to follow up with your Dail representative to raise the broader issue you are addressing with your Samaritan action.

    1. the good helen

      Thing is I never said I wasn’t already pushing. I’ve lost a family member to life on the streets, it isn’t me trying to just push at being a good samaritan its me pushing that little things can change the situation out there while we wait for this government to take their BIG FAT greedy fingers out of all their pies and do something. In the meantime, try change the stigma of walking past and ignoring. something even just a quick hello and chat means a bit more than throwing a euro coin.

      1. Joxer

        Apologies Good Helen – my comment was not directed at you specifically it was more of a broader comment on how we as a society (something all the Estates need to take a part in) need to address the problem at a holistic level.

        i think what you did today was a fupping great thing.

        1. the good helen

          sorry I was straight on the defence there. appreciate that. I honestly knew there would be alot of backlash against what i wrote, but that over one person being helped I couldnt care really.

  8. scottser

    homeless freephone number: 1800 707 707
    housing first intake team: 086 813 9015
    report a rough sleeper at and follow the link ‘help someone sleeping rough’

    fair play to you helen, fuk the begrudgers.

  9. Someone

    So you want him off the hooch and drugs, but you want him hooked on sugar instead.

    Seriously though, well done.
    There’s a homeless man at a junction on my way home from work, he’s there every day, I think I’ll get him a coffee and a sandwich.

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