>> Wednesday, May 04, 2016
Canal bank chuggers (that's 'charity muggers' not any of the other types of chugging now rushing through your mind!!)
It doesn't really seem possible does it.
I spend a lot of time on canal tow-paths. I always have. Running, walking, geocaching. I'm usually alone, clearing my head, mulling over life.
I did a 20 mile charity walk along the canal whilst in my early teens and it was so much fun that the joy has stayed with me ever since. In fact it led me to joining the youth rotary club and having an amazing few years doing things like teaching young adults with Down syndrome how to use buses independently.
Anyhoo...back to my lovely hour away from home stress....
I expect to be con-chugged whilst walking around town. It took me unawares in a rural location with only 1 or 2 people around. I was prime game.
I was walking up a hill backwards, as you do when trying to build up your quads, when I stopped to talk to 2 'canal workers' about canal life. Canal wildlife and yes, who pays for it. He spoke about a 'friends of ' scheme, he said there was no membership fee, that the model was very different to the national trust. But then we talked for at least another 10 minutes about fish, otters, snakes (they didn't know our canals have them) and other canally things. Then I said I'd take a leaflet away. Oh no, it's all on iPad now and he took my details...
...then asked me how much I was prepared to pay a month....
Now I had stupidly assumed they were after my details, hook me into campaigns etc and draw money out of me slowly....oh no they were in for the kill and it riled me. I'd been back footed and I felt uncomfortable. That moment when you feel obliged to explain how much you already give to charities and the charity work you do....but I resisted and simply said £2...yes, I know it's a pathetic amount but as I said I was back footed.
'Can't you give more?'
Now admittedly I'm stood there in a berghaus jacket, breaking in shiny new speed cross running shoes and fiddling with an iPhone in my pocket uneasily...in fairness I'm not looking destitute. But...
'Well we have a minimum amount so we'll cancel all your details off our system'
(I'm thinking: 'pennies turn into pounds' but who am I to judge...you know I'm just about to don't you!)
So I leave them and walk away feeling mean, unworthy and guilty. A fuller bucket of negativity than I'd left home with.
A mental well being walk ruined.
I'm aware how mean I sound even writing this and trust me the guilt is oozing out of every pore. I'm desperately battling the urge to tell you how much I already give and do....
It's a shame.
The canal trust lost my trust. If they'd have said 'we're doing a towpath upgrade scheme in this area would you donate' I would have. Yes, I'm shallow enough to give if I'll benefit...
..but this is a business enterprise masquerading as a charity with a huge property portfolio, fees coming in left right and centre. It is not a 'charity' doing good for all, if they want to encourage higher income then filling the canals with otters will draw tourists, to do that they must look after the environment they occupy. Think Disney, no one would go if it was a dirty stinking hole, people go and pay top dollar because it is nice to be there. The canals are no different. If they have problems with people dumping Terrapins, weed and slurry into the water then prosecute the shit out of them instead of letting it go. Locally we lost 60,000 fish in one incident and there was no prosecution.
But most of all do not chugg me then tell me £24 a year is not acceptable.
I've come to the conclusion I'd rather pay a license fee to have the right to walk the permissive paths (they aren't public rights of way) than be one of their 'friends'.