PESTY CHUGGERS

CHUGGER cartoon

(Image coreyjstephenson.blogspot.com) I save old newspapers for the cat litter tray. All right I know. TMI Too much information. See I am using youthful expressions after scrolling Facebook posts. I even say ‘cool’ these days.

So what’s new about the papers? Well, as we all know, the news in the papers you are about to dump in the green boxes is far more interesting than today’s.

 Choosing replacement paper was difficult today. An interesting account of how you can easily blow your insurance cover, an article by Allison Pearson (love her) and a few comment pages on political issues. Remember, no Guardian, no comment. But the one headline that caught my eye was about ‘chuggers’ – a new word derived from the phrase ‘charity mugging’ where  paid staff accostsp people in the street and attempt to sign them up to a regular payment from their bank account. Apparently, after a charity sent in chuggers to a seaside town fundraisers in the area boycotted the charity.

This caught my interest as, on a visit to Brighton two years ago, I was stopped by a girl wielding a clipboard and giving the impression that she was conducting a survey. I only gave the chugger the time of day as she was discussing one of the two deaf charities that I support. I read her badge thinking it was about time that deaf awareness was raised and felt pleased. My pleasure was short lived.

It wasn’t clear at the beginning that her intentions were to get my financial commitment on the spot. I engaged with her as I thought she was promoting the charity. A long animated discussion followed on the ignorance and lack of awareness in the present day of the difficulties faced by the deaf and how to communicate with them but one of her comments did not sit well with my view of present day services. A doubt festered in my mind as to whether she really did know much about the disability and government provision. When I tried to move on, she persevered in an attempt to ‘sign me up today.’ I escaped by telling her quite honestly that I hold fundraising coffee mornings in my own home town and also pay membership to one of them. Would I sign up to leave a sum in my will? I have already done this, so, without more ado, I was off to the Lanes.

I have to say I was shocked that my chosen charities were employing chuggers. I don’t know if they still do this but I find the whole scenario of chugging distasteful. The newspaper is 6 months old so maybe changes have occurred but the chuggers were still on the streets of Brighton only weeks ago.

Am I alone in my dislike of this practice? Perhaps it has become necessary as, with the state of the economy and the rise in the cost of living, fewer people can give to charities.

If so, it is a sad reflection on society today. A society where whatever your income or benefits payment you can afford a mobile phone but not a couple of pounds in a collection tin.

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