Friday 19 January 2018

'Smile at me like that again and I will punch you in the face' - life as a 'chugger' in Ireland

'A lady walked up to me and asked me how I sleep at night'

Rebecca Duffy. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Rebecca Duffy. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Ryan Nugent

"Smile at me like that again and I will punch you straight in the face."

This is the type of abuse fundraisers face on a daily basis when going about their jobs on the streets.

Rosemary Haughey
Rosemary Haughey

Rosemary Haughey (23) from Kilmarnock, Co Donegal, worked for a number of charities over a two-year period while in college.

She was good at it and said the work was fulfilling. She wouldn't have lasted long in the job if it wasn't the case.

She added that certain people are willing to have a go at any organisation, particularly one that stands for a divisive issue.

Read more: 'You're a filthy b**** who doesn't deserve kids' - How I went undercover on streets with the chuggers

David Smith
David Smith

And one particular member of the public threatened to "punch her in the face".

"I used to get lots of abuse when I was with an organisation," Rosemary said.

"I remember I had one lady walk up to me, she would have been around 40 or 50, and she was like, 'How do you sleep at night?' - she just went off on one," she added.

"So for that you would just outline exactly what the organisation's stance is."

During the training process, fundraisers are taught different responses to confrontation.

"Most of the time, there's nothing anybody could say to you that you don't have a rehearsed answer for," she said. "You will role-play in the office with other fundraisers for scenarios," she added.

This role-play prepares the fundraisers not only for confrontation, but also for excuses - such as people claiming they don't have access to a bank account.

"If they say they don't have a bank account, eight times out of 10 they wouldn't be telling the truth," Rosemary said. "So you would ask them if they had a television and if they had Sky, they'd be like 'yeah' so we'd ask how they pay for their Sky and they'd be like, 'Fair enough, I do have a bank account.'"

Another former face-to-face fundraiser, Rebecca Duffy (21), tried her hand at chugging for another charity one summer, but only lasted a day and a half. Despite selling 13 scratch cards on her first day (nine were to someone she knew), Rebecca, from Castleknock, Dublin 15, did not enjoy the experience.

"I hated it - dealing with that much constant rejection and dealing with people who don't want to listen to you and you know that they're going straight out of their way to avoid you and avoid eye contact," Rebecca said.

"As a self-conscious person, that's tough enough to get through."

This was even after the charity's co-ordinator told her who not to approach.

"They told you straight out, don't bother with people who have earphones in, are on the phone or who are in a suit and who probably work around the area everyday and [their] heads are wrecked with people approaching them.

"With them, they told you not to be annoying people - that was all that was in the training," she added.

David Smith (23) from Athboy, Co Meath, found the whole ordeal very stressful. He worked as a door-to-door fundraiser for a number of charities and most of his income was performance-based.

"Some people would just close the door on your face," David said.

"Even if you had three good weeks, once you had one bad week your job would be under pressure."

Irish Independent

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