CHARITY collectors who pester shoppers in Leamington have been branded “parasites” in a new report.
The Observer has been receiving complaints about the behaviour of ‘chuggers’ – short for charity muggers – on the town’s Parade for years but the problem has not gone away.
And now UK Charity Aid has hit out at their methods and the cut of donations which they pocket by getting people to sign up to make donations by direct debit.
Peter Quinn, Chairman of Charity Aid, said: “Chuggers now siphon off more than the first £100 of a donor’s money – without telling them this. These parasites now take over £100million a year from donations which were intended for charity.
“They’ve brought words like intimidation and hard sell into what used to be a noble calling. Volunteer groups are unanimous in opposing it and some have disbanded in protest.”
Many people are intimidated by their persistent methods which can include walking alongside passers-by or blocking their path.
Local authorities have sought to place limits on where and when chuggers can operate by introducing ‘site management agreements’ with the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA), a body representing more than 100 charities and 33 fund-raising agencies.
In April this year Warwick District Council signed its own deal restricting visits to three per week in Leamington, two per week in Warwick and one per week in Kenilworth. It also states fund-raisers must leave an adequate ‘comfort zone’ to those who do not wish to engage.
But The Observer has seen chuggers operating on the Parade nearly every working day for the past three weeks.
And the report by UK Charity Aid found such arrangements failed to eliminate the problem and stated it could actually lead to chuggers feeling they had freedom to be even more aggressive in their approach.
Both the district council and BID Leamington encourage anyone who has an issue with the behaviour of a collector to contact the Fund-raising Standards Board at www.frsb.org.uk or on 0333 3218803.