Training: Two years as a volunteer street collector

Experience: One month

Hours: About 40 hours a week

Salary: £120 a week

The job: "My role is to raise money for things like dialysis machines, patient care and kidney research. I organise fundraising events such as Family Fun Day at Battersea Park and also co-ordinate our volunteers. But I still personally go collecting outside supermarkets about two days a week.

The first thing you learn is to dress neatly, smile politely, and request a donation from everyone who comes out of the store. You don't engage in conversation. If you smile, you get more money - people give to the person, not the cause. In a day you can collect anything from £20 to £200.

Some people aren't happy about charity collectors - they feel they already give to the NHS through tax. They can get pretty angry. We just tell them to complain to head office.

In the summer, people are great and there's a lot more money in the tins. It's especially good on King's Road, if you're lucky enough to get a few days outside Safeway there.

The mornings are not a good time - everybody is rushing to work. The evenings are better, when people have got through the day's troubles. Collections on the first days of the week are low, but people are more relaxed by the end of the week and give more money.

There has been a 25 to 30 per cent drop in donations since the National Lottery started. A lot of people say to me: `We are already giving through the lottery'. I tell them we've not been chosen by the National Lottery Charities Board so we don't get any of the money.

Our current appeal is to raise £5m, with Sidney the Kidney as our mascot.

Pros: Once you come into contact with patients, you realise how worthwhile it is. And you get to go to lots of different events.

Cons: It's not respected work being a collector; people think it's begging. You don't get any credit for it.

Comments