Should Islington Council do something about ‘chuggers’?

Anyone who has walked along Upper Street in the daytime will be familiar with the teams of chirpy 20-somethings clad in brightly coloured jackets patrolling the pavement in the name of charity.

They are raising funds for the worthiest of causes, from fighting poverty to supporting cancer sufferers. But this week it emerged Islington Council wants greater powers to limit the numbers on the borough’s high streets.

So are these “chuggers” a vital cog in the charity machine, collecting desperately-needed cash from people who would not otherwise give, or are they guilty of being too pushy at a time when many have their own money struggles – and giving charities a bad name?

Reporter Tom Marshall went to Highbury Corner to find out if people think action is called for.

John Stevens, 62, an Underground worker of Highbury Station Road, Islington, said: “I don’t take much notice of them. It’s not that big an issue. They can be a bit of a pest sometimes, but you can always say no. I don’t think anything needs to be done.”

Bridget Dempsey, 32, a PR consultant who lives in Barnsbury Park, Barnsbury, said: “I think if you’re a charity-minded person you will give to charity by yourself without people being in your face. But charities rely on getting money from people who don’t take the initiative to do it off their own back. I would not want to take that away.”

Craig Thomas, 28, a photographer and filmmaker, of Highbury New Park, Highbury, said: “You should have the right to walk down the road without being hassled by what is essentially a corporation. I wish you could have some armband that means ‘don’t talk to me’. I like to give to charity, but I prefer to give locally where I can see the benefits. You don’t know where the money is going with these fundraisers.”

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Naomi Cooper, 26, an actress who also lives in Highbury New Park, Highbury, said: “It makes you feel guilty. I already give money every month to a charity I believe in, so I don’t want to be made to feel bad for saying no. There’s always quite a few round here and it can be difficult to avoid them. No-one likes to be hassled.”

Paul Jackson, 24, of Liverpool Road, Islington, a bar manager, said: “They’re a nuisance. I do a lot of stuff for charity and once I had climbed Ben Nevis the day before I was stopped by a chugger. I felt I had done my bit and I told the guy, but he still persisted – he said I hadn’t done anything for his charity. I gave in once though, all because the woman was quite pretty.”

Louise Newton, said: “They drive me mad. There’s too many, they’re to aggressive and they try to make you feel guilty. If it’s for a children’s charity and you’re with a child they really go for you. It’s too much.”