I apologize in advance if this seems distasteful in any way, I'm genuinely trying to be helpful.

I live in a low income area in the UK, however I am fairly comfortable financially.

It pains me greatly to think of all of the every day struggles people/families on low income face. Especially when people are struggling to feed themselves with quality foods.

Currently, my spare time is very limited and excess funds are not very consistent. So I would like to help spontaneously and sporadically until I can set up a more permanent solution (regular donations to charities etc).

My plan was to offer to pay for peoples' groceries while I am also shopping for mine and can also afford the extra cost. But I am unsure how I could consistently identify who could really use that help and how I would go about approaching them. I definitely do not want to offend anyone or make them feel uncomfortable.

How should I go about it?

  • 2
    Hey Griffin, welcome to IPS! I'm not sure that asking for a way to "consistently identify [someone] who could really use that help" is on-topic here. Maybe you should focus your question more on how to ask the person if you could buy some groceries things for them?
    – Ael
    Jan 22, 2020 at 21:04
  • 2
    I've had similar thoughts, but it's pretty rare that I can identify such a person. When I worked in a grocery store as a bagger, I would take note of the people who couldn't afford all of the groceries they selected, as this initially seemed like a good indicator. But I knew some of them, and got to know others, and learned even that way isn't sure-fire. I don't know if there's a better way, but the one I thought would work had many false-positives on people just trying to stick to a budget, even if they're wealthier than me.
    – Ed Grimm
    Jan 23, 2020 at 4:13
  • @EdGrimm yeah I really can't think of a way either, there probably isn't one.
    – Griffin
    Jan 23, 2020 at 17:27
  • Are there visible homeless people in your area?
    – Kat
    Jan 23, 2020 at 21:52
  • I'd also consider helping "one of many" could put you into a strange position. One person loves you for doing so, all others might say you are unfair. This could backfire badly.
    – puck
    Jan 25, 2020 at 8:23

1 Answer 1


Don't approach them yourself. Leave it to the experts. People working for charities are trained for this.

Donate to a (local) charity, such as a food bank or otherwise. People in need will come to those charities, and the charities also have experienced volunteers who will try to reach out to people in need unwilling or unable to come at their own initiative. Those charities will be much more effective at helping the people in your area.

  • I wanted to approach food banks for the more permanent solution later. My though was to ask the organizers who could use the most help, and perhaps set them up with a weekly food delivery until they're back on their feet. The rationale being that travelling to the food bank is just another strain on them that would be alleviated in this way. I was hoping to implement this spontaneous solution as a more personal approach. Displaying kindness from the world outside of their home life - more of a moral booster perhaps.
    – Griffin
    Jan 23, 2020 at 17:31
  • @Griffin Still better through the charity.
    – gerrit
    Jan 23, 2020 at 22:28
  • 1
    This is a really good overall suggestion, but doesn't really address the interpersonal skills aspect of OP's question. Jan 24, 2020 at 16:19
  • 2
    @baldPrussian The answer is "don't, leave it to the experts". Now if OP writes "I work for a food bank and want to reach people in need who don't come to us, how should I approach them", it would be a different matter.
    – gerrit
    Jan 24, 2020 at 17:55

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.