CHARITY street collectors have been slammed for aggressively ‘bombarding’ passersby along the town’s most historic street.
A resident sat outside a cafe in Henley Street watched as people were approached multiple times by fund-raisers – commonly known as ‘charity-muggers’ or ‘chuggers’ – operating within 50 metres of each other. The three fund-raisers were collecting near Shakespeare’s Birthplace for international children’s charity Unicef.
The resident, who did not want to be named, said: “The street was just plagued with them, bombarding everyone they could.
“They were all stood in the middle of the street and being very aggressive and in your face with people. They wouldn’t take no for an answer.
“It was galling to watch. It was really clear people were uncomfortable. Everyone was trying their best to avoid them, walking around and dodging them. It became a no-go area.”
Stratforward BID director Joe Baconnet said generally so-called ‘chugging’ was not a big problem in the town but added Henley Street was not the right place for them to operate.
He said: “It was entirely the wrong place for them and it’s disappointing to hear people felt they were aggressive.
“They’re not required to have a licence and we would need a report before we could take any action.
“If there is a problem we would look to work with the district council to come to some agreement which could perhaps alter the level of collectors, similar to the one in Leamington.”
In response to a tweet from the resident, the charity said it would investigate, and added its fund-raisers never intended to make people feel ‘uncomfortable or vulnerable’.
A spokeswoman for Unicef told the Observer all fund-raisers were monitored and trained. Rules included not taking more than three steps with a member of the public, and immediately ending a conversation if they did not wish to engage.
She added: “Please be assured Unicef always has children at the heart of everything we do, and we wouldn’t spend supporter’s donations on any fundraising methods that didn’t bring in significant funds for our vital work for children in danger.”
A Stratford District Council spokeswoman confirmed unlike fund-raisers collecting with tins, those trying to persuade passersby to fill in direct debit forms did not require a licence.