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  #21  
Old 14.02.2021, 15:03
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Re: Homeless/Begging

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By the way, how is the quality of swiss prisons? Are they like the Nordic ones which more resemble a hotel than a prison?
According to the ex-wife of a friend (she is a prison guard in Lugano), yes.

Tom
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  #22  
Old 14.02.2021, 15:47
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Re: Homeless/Begging

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On the whole the law seems sensible to me - the detail is in the implementation.

By making it illegal, it allows the police to manage the situation which they could not do otherwise.

Their approach should then be to provide genuine homeless people with information about where they can get help and so on; from what I've read, this seems to be the case in practice.
My understanding is that people living / begging on the streets in Zürich do it out of their own choice, as there is alternative City and private funding available. In my years in Zurich, the remaining people that choose to live this way have been the same ones for decades, and are quite well-known characters. Infact I once considered making a documentary about them (there is one out there somewhere). They do not want to live in any other way.

But the ones that you see, maybe with deformed feet etc. are something else. There is plenty of help in Zürich for the homeless, but unfortunately criminal / Mafia elements have also made a lucrative business of making money out of it.

The time I bought a mother (from wherever) begging with her baby on the Bahnhofstrasse nappies and baby supplies instead of money at least a couple of decades ago made me aware of this. She was so happy for the supplies, but also so scared to go home without money to the person who had made her a prisoner, forced into slavery to do this.

It needs to be reported to the police, and as much as I hate it, has to be either reported or ignored - not encouraged.

Here a link to official info about the options available for the homeless in Zürich. There are many articles which have been published over the years:

https://www.stadt-zuerich.ch/sd/de/i...losigkeit.html
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  #23  
Old 14.02.2021, 16:05
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Re: Homeless/Begging

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Many years ago when I worked in London I used to pass one guy like that in the entrance to Moorgate tube. Begging gangs, often with kids in tow, were big business at that time, but this guy was obviously genuine. Used to stop for a chat when I could, and a bit of cash as often as not. Pour chap started to develop a terrible oral abscess over the course of a couple of weeks, so I tried my best to persuade him to get himself to a hospital - he didn't realise how serious it could get.

One day he wasn't there and didn't reappear so is like to hope he took my advice.

Anyway, I always felt that treating people in that situation like human beings can do a lot more good than money or even food. Stop and talk, give them something they need if you want to, but above all remind them that they're part of the human race as well.
Having to walk by many dozens of homeless people in their sleeping bags on my way to my office from Victoria Station in the 1980‘s , and feeling helpless, was one of the main reasons I left the UK. It was hopeless, and you see this in many of the cities around the World, some even worse. Zürich (at the moment) provides at least alternatives.
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  #24  
Old 14.02.2021, 16:20
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Re: Homeless/Begging

I know somebody who actually tried to apply for social support in Zürich. The first thing they make you do is fill out a ton of forms and produce all sorts of documents to prove your legitimacy. Of course that is understandable as nobody likes to see the system being milked and abused by those who don't actually need it. But for people with maybe a history of abuse, with mental instability an unable to concentrate on the task at hand, or people who are challenged to get even the simplest things organized, this can effectively be a barrier.

There are also private initiatives like the Salvation Army or Pfarrer Sieber who do great work and who I admire, and where it is easier to get inside even if you don't have the documentation. But even so, these groups look out for basic needs but do not provide 24/7 babysitting services and these people will at some point be out on the streets again.
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Old 14.02.2021, 16:29
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Re: Homeless/Begging

Yes, I believe that it it is better to support these institutions to help those that want it:

https://www.srf.ch/news/schweiz/obda...hlosen-umgehen
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  #26  
Old 14.02.2021, 22:29
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Re: Homeless/Begging

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Having to walk by many dozens of homeless people in their sleeping bags on my way to my office from Victoria Station in the 1980‘s , and feeling helpless, was one of the main reasons I left the UK. It was hopeless, and you see this in many of the cities around the World, some even worse. Zürich (at the moment) provides at least alternatives.
Britain has got worse and worse in that respect. Any amount of homelessness is an abomination in a developed country, but I never really considered it a problem in Switzerland. There always seemed to be a decent safety net that handled the problem. But, even if you discount the organized Roma beggars, there seems to be an uptick in obviously homeless people on the street.

There are a few UK homeless charities that I donate to, but it's maybe time to consider a Swiss one too. A quick googling gives an organization called 'Swiss Solidarity'. Is there a better option than them?
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Old 14.02.2021, 23:13
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Re: Homeless/Begging

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According to the ex-wife of a friend (she is a prison guard in Lugano), yes.

Tom
I know a Swiss guy who spent a short time in prison a few years ago (I think he did it rather than pay a fine). He said it was literally like a hotel room. There was even a fridge with beers in it.
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  #28  
Old 14.02.2021, 23:24
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Re: Homeless/Begging

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I know somebody who actually tried to apply for social support in Zürich. The first thing they make you do is fill out a ton of forms and produce all sorts of documents to prove your legitimacy. Of course that is understandable as nobody likes to see the system being milked and abused by those who don't actually need it. But for people with maybe a history of abuse, with mental instability an unable to concentrate on the task at hand, or people who are challenged to get even the simplest things organized, this can effectively be a barrier.

There are also private initiatives like the Salvation Army or Pfarrer Sieber who do great work and who I admire, and where it is easier to get inside even if you don't have the documentation. But even so, these groups look out for basic needs but do not provide 24/7 babysitting services and these people will at some point be out on the streets again.
There seems to be a good oversight for vulnerable persons, at least in VD I have noticed the massive public campaign for social curators. Maybe those who could potentially have a problem to defend themselves, protect themselves and understand the bureaucracy in order to file for social help could contact these services: https://www.vd.ch/toutes-les-autorit...onnelles-sctp/

It exists in two forms, public and private service. It is a tradition here, even friends and neighbors look out for anyone in need and help out, in my experience, even without any registration...so there is no shame in contacting these discreet services.
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  #29  
Old 15.02.2021, 10:21
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Re: Homeless/Begging

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I know a Swiss guy who spent a short time in prison a few years ago (I think he did it rather than pay a fine). He said it was literally like a hotel room. There was even a fridge with beers in it.
I know a Romanian guy who spent 6 months in prison on remand. There certainly wasn't any beer around. It was all quite grim. Petty theft and criminal damage (committing the petty theft). Cleaned him up quite a bit though. He then turned himself in in Berlin, where he was also wanted for various activities. He's doing a sort of European tour.
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  #30  
Old 15.02.2021, 11:08
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Re: Homeless/Begging

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I know a Romanian guy who spent 6 months in prison on remand. There certainly wasn't any beer around. It was all quite grim. Petty theft and criminal damage (committing the petty theft). Cleaned him up quite a bit though. He then turned himself in in Berlin, where he was also wanted for various activities. He's doing a sort of European tour.

Prison standards are probably different in each Kanton. Geneva prisons have a terrible reputation (especially for overcrowding). I remember reading about one African prisoner begging a judge not to sentence him to a long prison stretch as the prison he was in was worse than in his home country (where he had also been behind bars).
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  #31  
Old 15.02.2021, 12:18
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Re: Homeless/Begging

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I know a Swiss guy who spent a short time in prison a few years ago (I think he did it rather than pay a fine). He said it was literally like a hotel room. There was even a fridge with beers in it.
Have heard this version too. Have seen a documentary and the Swiss prisons seemed OK? I guess. Either way, losing your freedom is no walk in the park. Not to mention the stigma attached to your future endeavours. It kind of sets up your life ahead. Petty crime or not, no-one will care. No one will care you stole a salami from a shop or you stole a.... bank. You'd probably get away with stealing a bank lol.

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Britain has got worse and worse in that respect. Any amount of homelessness is an abomination in a developed country, but I never really considered it a problem in Switzerland. There always seemed to be a decent safety net that handled the problem. But, even if you discount the organized Roma beggars, there seems to be an uptick in obviously homeless people on the street.

There are a few UK homeless charities that I donate to, but it's maybe time to consider a Swiss one too. A quick googling gives an organization called 'Swiss Solidarity'. Is there a better option than them?
Well, you should really see Paris. Last time when we visited our hotel was next to an African refugee tent camp. It was dramatic. Also, on those wonderful boulevards, lots of people sleeping in the street and I bet they weren't all "imports".
In fact, at one point or another, homelessness is such a human tragedy that it doesn't even matter how these people got into this situations, where they are coming from etc.
But that's just me, I don't ask people for their passports. If I can help, I do. And yes, I am one of those idiots who give money to beggars, even if it's obvious they need their drug fix or whatever.
Quite a few drug addicts begging for some coins in ZH, btw.

Last edited by greenmount; 15.02.2021 at 12:33.
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  #32  
Old 15.02.2021, 12:29
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Re: Homeless/Begging

One thing I've never understood why this only happens in cities. City should be understood as more than 15K people in Switzerland. So, is there a secret police hunting the homeless in smaller villages or why is it a mostly urban issue?
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  #33  
Old 15.02.2021, 12:31
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Re: Homeless/Begging

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One thing I've never understood why this only happens in cities. City should be understood as more than 15K people in Switzerland. So, is there a secret police hunting the homeless in smaller villages or why is it a mostly urban issue?
It's tough being homeless. Even tougher in the countryside. For the beggar gangs, it's simply where more people are and were the richer (tourist) pickings are - hence the sign in English, rather than in German.
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  #34  
Old 15.02.2021, 12:35
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Re: Homeless/Begging

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It's tough being homeless. Even tougher in the countryside. For the beggar gangs, it's simply where more people are and were the richer (tourist) pickings are - hence the sign in English, rather than in German.
It' simple. Don't give them money if you sense they're not genuine. Report them to police.

Where we live I think I've seen 2 beggars in like 6-7 years. One of them was from Hungary and the other one I didn't ask. Anyways, I don't know what happened to them but they were seen like a few times each, and not all day long there. I guess it is not allowed in my neck of the woods.
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  #35  
Old 15.02.2021, 13:22
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Re: Homeless/Begging

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It' simple. Don't give them money if you sense they're not genuine. Report them to police.

Where we live I think I've seen 2 beggars in like 6-7 years. One of them was from Hungary and the other one I didn't ask. Anyways, I don't know what happened to them but they were seen like a few times each, and not all day long there. I guess it is not allowed in my neck of the woods.
People have asked me money in Genève and Zürich. The professional ones have a clipboard and a pen in hand to disguise as people getting signatures for referendum, Greenpeace, etc. Once you listen to their story, it is not about polar bears and climate change but 5 or 6 hungry children....I just keep walking and eventually they stop following you to return to their hunting grounds.

The only "true" homeless I've seen is in Baden bahnhof, but drugs are destroying this woman really fast. Money or food can't help her. It's a pity. My assumption is that this woman is Swiss because the police doesn't care, I already told them once. Otherwise, deported or held in mental institution.
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  #36  
Old 15.02.2021, 13:31
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Re: Homeless/Begging

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People have asked me money in Genève and Zürich. The professional ones have a clipboard and a pen in hand to disguise as people getting signatures for referendum, Greenpeace, etc. Once you listen to their story, it is not about polar bears and climate change but 5 or 6 hungry children....I just keep walking and eventually they stop following you to return to their hunting grounds.

The only "true" homeless I've seen is in Baden bahnhof, but drugs are destroying this woman really fast. Money or food can't help her. It's a pity. My assumption is that this woman is Swiss because the police doesn't care, I already told them once. Otherwise, deported or held in mental institution.
When we lived in ZH there was a Swiss man who I think was homeless because he looked like one, though he never begged for anything. He was quite nice, not all right in his head though. OH was always giving him some money and talked to him. He accepted, but never asked. I wouldn't frame him as a beggar, just troubled and probably homeless. Once the police did care: there were 2 policemen asking him a lot of things and treating him like a criminal, at least this is what it looked like to me. I felt really sorry for this man.
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Old 15.02.2021, 13:53
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Re: Homeless/Begging

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People have asked me money in Genève and Zürich. The professional ones have a clipboard and a pen in hand to disguise as people getting signatures for referendum, Greenpeace, etc.
I thought you were going somewhere else with this!

Some of the beggars encountered in Basel aren't homeless. One Swiss guy had spent twenty years in Thailand being a beach bum and then came back (for whatever reason) to nothing. He was on social and had somewhere to live, but had simply run out of money and was hungry. Bad budgetting more than anything else
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  #38  
Old 15.02.2021, 14:00
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Re: Homeless/Begging

In ZH I'm usually followed by religious nutters. I'm like a magnet for the Witnesses etc.

Approached a couple of times in Spanish, one time in Italian. Gave some coins only to the Spaniards, they had a story about being poor students blah blah. It might have been true? lol
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  #39  
Old 15.02.2021, 18:43
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Re: Homeless/Begging

London had a huge Roma problem back in the late 90s, it happened after Easyjet started up cheap flights from E Europe to Stansted. I worked Tues - Fri for a heritage charity, on a Mon I used to do housekeeping in an apartment that was a corporate let at St Katherine Docks. On the walk from Tower Hill station there were always Roma women begging with "sleeping" toddlers (it was widely believed they were being drugged to keep them sleepy). They were also begging on the tubes.

First time I visited a friend who lives in Madrid back in 2003, they had a massive problem there. He was continually ringing the police as a gang of them were drinking and singing outside his flat late every night. Others had built a makeshift camp for themselves going out towards the airport. Our friend insisted on driving to the airport to pick us up as he didn't want us using the Metro because of Roma pickpockets.

When we were in Tuscany 3 years ago they were going up and down the trains with signs saying 4 kids to feed etc. In Venice we found you had to be very careful around St Mark's Square.

I don't think this is a problem that is ever going to go away - I was on a tram into the city centre last week and it seemed there was a Roma beggar every few feet along Aeschengraben / Bankverein.
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Old 15.02.2021, 18:58
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Re: Homeless/Begging

Yeah, well, it's easy to recognise them and ignore them IMHO.

I don't know if this problem will go away any time soon either. But if people cease to give them money it might help.

Anyways, at least in ZH they are not a common appearance. So it depends.

Btw, I have a Spanish friend who is from Madrid and he said they always had problems with their local gangs too.
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