Opinion: Dean Freeman - Charity begins at home, not in the streets

Dean Freeman
Dean Freeman
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Charity, they say, begins at home.

My home, and probably yours, is Wakefield and I’m becoming rather annoyed by the proliferation of charity fundraising people that decide to call Wakefield – especially outside the cathedral – their home.

I’m not against charity, let’s clear that up. But as someone who works from home and will often wonder into town to meet with people, a day doesn’t seem to pass where I’m not harassed by a charity collector.

And yes, I would use the word harass. Some are fine, but an increasing number won’t take no for an answer.

When I see them loitering, my heart now sinks, yet I still try and glance over to see what charity they are promoting. It’s almost always good stuff. Some of them I already give to.

However, I don’t tend to wander around town aimlessly, I have places to be, so I give them a wide berth. But they still manage to lock on.

Why are they picking me out of this bunch of people? I foolishly make eye contact. They’ve got me.

My excuses are usually genuine. But these last few months, they don’t seem to care. I’ve been getting backchat from them. “I’m meeting someone” I say. “Well, they will still be there in 10 minutes – isn’t this more important?” they reply.

Perhaps that’s just passion coming through. Or maybe they are on commission. My wife has had it worse, some times bordering on abuse.

I hate the presumption that because I am in town through the day I have nothing better to do. And also that I don’t already ‘do my bit’ for charity.

It pains me more to admit, but I also don’t like the fact that almost all of these people are from London. The accent hits you.

It makes me angry, because they aren’t even local. They come up here, from some rich southern city where the roads are paved with gold, and try and rinse a few coppers from us struggling northerners.

It is inverse snobbism at its worse, but I admit it is there.

One thing we forget about charities in general is that they shouldn’t exist.

If we lived in a society that was fair and just, all the things they campaign to raise money for would be paid for already. Capitalism makes that an impossibility.

From the Air Ambulance to Cancer Research; shouldn’t we, as a civilisation, be able to provide these things without relying on the generosity of people on the street? Isn’t curing diseases something that benefits us all?

It should be a sign of an improving society and economy; the state, as we grow and prosper, takes the work away from a charity and it becomes tax funded, until the work is complete.

But in society where we spend more on nuclear weapons and smartphone technology than we do on charitable causes, that will never happen.

No wonder the charity collectors are so terribly rude to us all.