Good opportunity to meet people

I WOULD like to respond to a recent letter (Observer, January 12), referring to street collections by charities.

I totally understand the reader’s point about feeling pressurised by charity workers collecting money – and in fact, feel quite guilty, having undertaken this task recently. I work for possibly a less well-known charity, Shine (formerly known as ASBAH) and we have a charity shop in Crane Street, Chichester.

As part of our new image, Shine aims to build a vibrant presence and a strong voice for the community of around 75,000 individuals in the UK, who have spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus or who provide support, care and specialist services to those living with the conditions.

Shine obviously feels, as with all charities, their organisation is deserving.

But I agree, street collections do not always allow the collector to explain in more detail about the charity, the people and conditions they represent and, above all, how their vital donations are being utilised.

A small team of enthusiastic staff and volunteers recently organised a Christmas fun day to raise awareness of Shine and their shop.

I did venture outside with a collecting tin, accompanied by a band of staff and volunteers, dressed as elves, fairies and accompanied by Shine’s life-size Benny Bear mascot – greatly received by adults and children alike.

But the most rewarding thing I found about the day was being able to speak to some people on a personal level and others on a more generic level about spina bifida and hydrocephalus.

Collecting became secondary and the opportunity to raise people’s understanding and to ensure Shine achieves a higher profile became the focus – despite the rain and cold!

Sharon Saville

Support and Development Worker, Shine

01273 419022 or sharon.saville@shinecharity.org.uk.