Charity Pressures

In general, I think that the British have a very positive view towards charity and giving to those in need, so much so that each year some of the biggest nights on TV are charity appeals such as Children in Need and Comic Relief. This in itself is fantastic and one of the reasons why I’m so proudly British however this openness about asking for donations can leave people’s generosity up for exploitation.

Last weekend I was in York with my best friend and as we were walking through the city a man holding a pile of magazines approached us asking if we would buy one off him. Having grown up with a ballsy mother that’s never been afraid to tell a salesman ‘no’, I was well aware of how to tackle the situation. Brimming with confidence, I politely told the man that we weren’t interested in his magazine. I was hoping this would be the end of our encounter so that my friend and I could get back to enjoying our day but sadly my dreams were not to be fulfilled.

I wouldn’t consider myself a particularly strong person but listening to this man’s pre-rehearsed seller’s speech took an awful lot of effort. I genuinely had no idea that the line “my 4 children” could be used so many times in 5 minutes, nor have I ever been made to feel more to blame for something that I didn’t do. All aboard the guilt-trip!

We had been standing with this man for well over 5 minutes now and still he was not content with us not wanting a magazine. Changing tact, he asked us for £1 each. My friend had just taken the train in from Leeds and in typical student fashion had spent every single coin in her purse doing so. The burden had fallen on me.

I reluctantly handed over a pound and we swiftly started to walk away. Sadly we only managed to escape for about 10 seconds before noticing that the man had actually followed us. At this point I would have gladly taken my first run in 5 years to get away from him had he not looked so sad. He was now promising to leave us alone if we gave him a second pound coin.

Despite the fact that both of us are trained in karate, we’re both easily swayed wimps and had neither strength nor will power to tell this man ‘no’ any more times. I gave in and reluctantly handed over a second pound coin, securing my half of the deal. Thankfully he also kept his promise and left us alone after that.

Although I only gave away £2, it was £2 that I felt uncomfortable donating. My friend and I were made to feel guilty for a situation that we did not cause and we were asked to give away our hard-earned money with no idea where it was going or how it was going to be used. I feel that I am quite a generous person and always make an effort to donate to charities that I care about- I am however entirely uncomfortable with people bullying me into donating to their cause.


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