I was cycling to South Ldn to Dalston for a gig (was good). On way there, opposite the much-maligned Bird restaurant, I saw a homeless man shaking and what looked like whimpering. I initially walked past with my bike before turning around and approaching him, asking if he was alright. He seemed a bit distraught and a bit on edge, so I talked to him for a bit. I ended up giving him some money for a hostel. He took my mobile number.
I was cycling back and saw him in the same spot. I went over to him again and he told me more of his back story, which did sound awful, about how he had to catch a train to see his baby the next morning, how something to do with custody only allowed him rare opportunities to see her. I wondered if it was far-fetched, but, being a middle class boy from a comfortable background, I thought I probably shouldn't judge. I ended up giving him a bit more money.
Now, from the two encounters, I ended up giving him quite a bit of money, more than I'd liked to have given away. I don't know if I'd been well and truly X-Factored, but I didn't really want to take that chance. He did seem quite depressed and wasn't drinking (not that that makes any difference I suppose) and he seemed to know what he needed.
Now, I don't really know if giving him £30 was right, it's simultaneously a lot and not a lot of money to me, and I can't afford to give it away to everyone who needs cash. I suppose the fact that a student has to help someone in his position is more telling. I would like to know what else you can do in this situation? Are there people you can call, who will take him to a hostel? Other services?