Complaints as charity annoys shoppers in Fareham’s town centre

Fundraisers from the British Red Cross outside WH Smiths in West Street, Fareham
Fundraisers from the British Red Cross outside WH Smiths in West Street, Fareham

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CHARITY fundraisers operating in Fareham’s high street have been accused of ‘chugging’ by shoppers.

British Red Cross representatives were stopping shoppers outside WHSmith in West Street, Fareham.

An office worker, who didn’t want to be named, said they didn’t like being approached.

‘It makes you feel uncomfortable when you’re challenged in the street’ they said.

‘It’s like begging or chugging. Even when people offer them cash, they’re not interested in that, they only want to get your bank details.’

‘Chugging’ is a term that refers to charity mugging – where representatives from an organisation take details to sign people up to a direct debit payment plan.

As no cash is handed over, this means the fundraisers don’t need a charitable street collection permit from the council as they are only taking bank details.

They also don’t need a street trading permit as they’re not selling anything, therefore the council has no control over them.

In 2009, WHSmith announced plans to work with the British Red Cross to allow its representatives to approach customers once inside the shop.

Now the fundraisers have been criticised after stopping members of the public that are not even intent on visiting the store.

The office worker said: ‘It’s bad enough in the precinct with charity fundraisers interrupting you while you’re walking.

‘But to stop right outside a shop is ridiculous.

‘It’s annoying and it affects the enjoyment of a shopping experience.’

The British Red Cross helps vulnerable people in the UK and abroad prepare for, withstand and recover from emergencies in their own communities.

A spokesman from the charity said: ‘We take the conduct of anyone representing the Red Cross very seriously and will not tolerate any unacceptable behaviour.

‘We’d encourage anyone that has any concerns to contact our supporter care team on 0300 456 1155.’

A spokesman for WHSmith said: ‘We work closely with all charity representatives and we operate a very strict code of conduct, which they must abide by at all times.’