Chuggers 'banned' to stop shopper harassment
RESTRICTIONS on "chuggers" have come into force which limit the charity fundraisers approaching shoppers in Manchester, writes Lauren Houghton.
An agreement has been drawn up to stop shoppers being harassed by the street fundraisers, often referred to as “chuggers” – charity muggers.
The joint agreement between CityCo, the city centre management company, and the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA), the body that self-regulates street fundraising came into force on Monday 28 February 2012 after approval from Manchester City Council.
There are now only four zones in the city centre where face-to-face fundraising can take place:
Zone 1 - The bottom of Market Street under the canopy near Boots
Zone 2 - The Oldham Street end of Piccadilly Gardens near the statue
Zone 3 - Outside the main entrance to the Manchester Arndale and next to the Manchester Wheel
Zone 4 - St Ann’s Square outside the Royal Exchange Theatre
The fundraisers are limited to five chuggers per zone and they will only be allowed to approach people on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 9am and 6pm.
With many high street stores struggling, the face-face fundraisers have been criticised for discouraging people from shopping in the city centre.
Some retailers welcomed the restrictions.
Niki Porter, 40, a retail supervisor on Market Street, spoke on a day when the street was free of "chuggers" due to the restrictions.
She said: “It’s so much better without them.
"I hate the fact that every day they are asking me for money and they can be really rude if you ignore them, heckling you down the street. It must drive people away from shopping on Market Street.
"I always duck straight into the Arndale Centre to avoid being harassed, so I bet shoppers do the same.”
Alex Macdonald, 22, also works for a Market Street retailer, he said: “I’m all for charity but I would like to choose who I give it to rather than have it forced on me.
"Obviously they’re doing a really good thing, but there must be other ways of going about it.
"I think it does put people off shopping on Market Street so being reduced to three days is good - but zero days would be better.”
Manchester is one of 39 UK towns and cities, including Leeds and Sheffield, that have introduced a street fundraising agreement.
But not everybody agrees with the restrictions.
Shopper Tanya Dean, 31, she said: “I do find the fundraisers annoying but even without them there’s still people approaching you all over Market Street, trying to give you leaflets or sell you things, at least if it’s for charity it’s a good cause.
"It should be the businesses that are restricted first then people might have more patience with the charity workers.”
The PRFA estimates that face-to-face fundraising raises around £10 million a month.
The charity watchdog said more than 600,000 donors sign up with street fundraisers each year, which comprises around 18% of regular charity donors.
With many charities facing cuts in funding this extra blow could hit their finances hard.
Tracy Griffin, director of fundraising at Shelter, welcomed restriction agreements.
She said: "For Shelter, all new site management agreements are a positive step forward for the self regulation of face to face fundraising."
Anyone can report any fundraisers in Manchester who appear to be breaking the agreement by email@example.com.
Further information on fundraising regulation is available from the PRFA.
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