Published on 12 September 2002 in , ,

Each evening I leave work and set off on the eight minute or so journey to the tube station.

As journeys go its not that exciting consisting as it does of walking straight down a busy London street. However like many streets in the UK has a menace: the charity gangs.

Most people will have come across them at one point or other. Small groups of people with clipboards strategically placed so that at every single one of them gets to ask you if you can spare ‘a few seconds’.

The aim (so I am told, for I have never stopped to speak to them) is to get you to part with your bank details so that they can set up a direct debit for whatever charity it is.

Fair enough you’d think. Charity donations are down and they need money.

The problem for me is that I’m getting asked every night.


Each evening without fail I’ll have to run the gauntlet to get the tube home, each night a different charity.

Most nights I sigh, look straight aheaa and push on, but as I passed the first of six I heard a shout.

“You could at least look at me. It’s very rude!”

Whether I was the intended target I’ll never know, but for a fleeting moment I considered going back and explaining what I considered to be rude.

This is my definition of rude.

My definition of rude is a bit diferent and would have consisted of me telling him to sod off and stop pestering me. You probably don’t want to know what I would class as very rude.

His hypocrasy also astounded me. For someone who spends there day delibratly moving directly in front of strangers trying to get them to stop, hassling them to sign a bit of paper, it seemed a bit rich.

There is one good reason why they get blanked. Their targets are trying to get home and fed up of different groups of people hassling them, night after night after night. It gets incredibly annoying to have to fight your way down the street whilst people with coloured bibs step out in front of you trying to get you to stop.

Give my money to line someone elses pocket?

If the sheer pestering of the people wasn’t bad enough, spare a thought for the fact that these people usually aren’t volunteers but on commission. However their commission is nothing in comparison to that which their employer gets. A report in the Guardian revealed that at least one of the companies who arranges these things, in the first year of your direct debit, takes half of the money you donate.

No wonder they really want you to sign.

The charities are being taken for a ride, and the hassle-tactics are annoying people in a big way. People like myself are being seriously put off from giving any money to charaties due to the constant hassle factor. Yes it may sound completely heartless and I’m ashamed to say it, but it’s true.

Pestering people doth not equal more money.

Donations to charity may be suffering, but believe me, this is one tactic that isn’t going to stop it.

And if you’re in the bibbed brigade, remember this: the majority of those lovely people who just walk on by, eyes straight ahead, weaving as far away from you as possible, will be doing it for one main reason: they are sick to the back teeth of people like you pestering them day in day out. Remember that as you put on your fake smile and stand in front of them whilst they’re trying to get down the street.