Shouldn’t judge panhandlers

While there will always be people trying to take advantage of others, it’s unfair to paint all panhandlers with the same brush.

While there will always be people trying to take advantage of others, it’s unfair to paint all panhandlers with the same brush, some are simply trying to meet their basic essentials for living.

Just because someone looks healthy and able to work, it does not mean they are. We should not judge someone’s ability to work based on them being male, young or healthy looking, as not all disabilities that keep one from the work force are visible, such as many mental health issues.

With mention to why a panhandler may turn down food when offered, I offer this reason – between the food bank and the Salvation Army many are able to meet their food needs, but still need money for things such as bus passes and transportation and other items one may need in life and not necessary in need of food.

Those who are panhandling are many times the poorest and most at risk in our society. Speaking from experience, asking complete strangers for spare change is not an easy task, nor is living off the $235 per month assistance pays for a single person after housing is paid. Yes, some will say “get a job,” but at the moment due to health concerns working is not an option for me, and it’s not an option for many.

Abbotsford is not an easy city to be poor in, due to limited services available and offered, and those that are offering are likely stretched thin trying to help.

Try and put yourself in their shoes, and don’t think it can’t or won’t happen to you. A prolonged illness can wipe out savings quickly and before you know it, you are living off assistance, panhandling and just trying to survive.

Justin Smith