Charlotte Farrow, a 19-year-old from Rochdale, tried to buy breakfast for a homeless man in McDonald's in Oxford Road, Manchester. She says that staff initially told her they had a new policy that meant they no longer served homeless people. She was eventually allowed to buy food, and McDonald's has since apologised.
The Manchester Evening News reported that Farrow had decided to buy breakfast for an elderly homeless man, after she saw him on her way to work. The pair queued up together, but on reaching the till she claims to have been told that the branch had a new policy, and was not serving homeless people.
Farrow went to the press, and added on Facebook: "If these are the lengths I have to go to, then here it is. People need to put their phones down and take a look in the mirror, ask yourself, how would I feel in the situation? Have I ever had to sleep on the street as I literally beg for money? "
According to The Mirror, McDonald's said both customers had been served, but that there was a breakdown in communications. It said that it was not McDonald's policy to refuse to serve homeless people, and all staff had been reminded of the fact. It apologised for the confusion.
It's not the first time the brand has faced headlines about its attitude to homeless people. Earlier this month a landscape gardener said he was initially refused service in the same branch, because he was wearing outdoor work clothes and staff thought he was homeless. He said one staff member had informed him that they wouldn't serve food to homeless people. McDonald's apologised and insisted this wasn't company policy.
Last month a campaign was launched to get McDonald's to remove metal spikes outside a Leeds city centre branch. It said they weren't specifically anti-homeless spikes, but were intended to deter anti-social behaviour. However, campaigners insisted they primarily affected people looking for a sheltered place to sleep. So far more than 88,000 people have signed the petition, but the spikes remain.
Meanwhile, in Russia last December, two men known on YouTube as NormelTV ran a social experiment where one of the men bought his lunch and sat down to eat it. He then went to the toilet and asked people sitting nearby to guard it for him. The second man then entered the branch dressed as a homeless man, and started eating the food. The reactions ranged from those angrily defending the food, to some who resorted to violence, and others who handed over their own food instead or offered to buy the man a meal.
It goes to show the wide range of attitudes towards homelessness. Some people are primarily concerned about a potential threat from homeless people, and would prefer to keep people at arm's length. Others are appalled by the treatment of people who have fallen through the net. But what do you think? Let us know in the comments.
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