[Forum] Child “used” by charity at Willow Brook Centre?

Willow Brook Centre Mall.

Visiting the mall in Bradley Stoke on Monday 16th October, I was stopped by a boy asking me to donate to the NSPCC. He had his sponsorship form with him and informed me he was doing it also on behalf of his school, Abbeywood School, where he is a pupil.

I was shocked to discover children are being used in this way. The boy told me he was 12 years old. What is the head teacher and education authority thinking of, allowing children to ask strangers to donate money? It doesn’t put the NSPCC in a good light either.

It really is inappropriate for young children to be involved in this kind of activity. Asking family and friends to sponsor them for money that would go directly to the school is reasonable, but for children to tout for business in the streets on behalf of a charity is highly inappropriate.

Ray Borge

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  1. Ray, I wonder if the child was doing this on his own initiative, on the way home from school? I’ll put it to the Abbeywood head.

  2. I imagine that he was doing this off his own back.
    You have to have permission from the Willow Brook Centre first to be able to collect money (only if you get a date usually a year in advance!) and that is usually bucket donations. I have never heard of anyone standing with a sponsor form before. The charity no doubt will have concerns as children are not allowed to collect unless over the age of 16 or over 12 if part of a youth group with adults that have been CRB checked…

  3. “What is the head teacher and education authority thinking of, allowing children to ask strangers to donate money?”

    Or, perhaps, his parents?

  4. This is probably the same child who approached me at 7.30 on Tuesday evening outside the leisure centre. I offered him 13p in change but when he suggested I might like to go inside to change a £5 note, I declined! I’m sure neither the NSPCC nor his school intended that he should be approaching strangers.

  5. Has anyone actually considered that the child was doing this off his own back and his parents, school, charity was unaware of it.

    I wonder what happened to any money he was given…

  6. It isn’t clear what’s been going on here. It seems unlikely that the charity or school would employ the same methods as Mumbai begging syndicates.

  7. We have spent some time investigating the situation described and have spoken with South Gloucestershire Council and to the Headteacher of Abbeywood Community School. He was aware of the concerns raised and had already undertaken a thorough investigation within the school finding no evidence to show that the boy mentioned in the article does in fact attend Abbeywood Community School. It was agreed that he would ensure safety messages were reinforced with his pupils to maximise their safety and protection.

    The NSPCC have not approached Abbeywood Community School asking them to undertaken fundraising on our behalf. When the NSPCC organises fundraising events in schools, we always explain to the pupils, both in our presentations and on our printed materials that they must first ask their parents/carers for permission to take part and if given, they must ask who they may approach for donations. The sponsor forms we use in schools have a space for parents/carers to sign to give their permission for their child to participate. We deliver very clear safeguarding messages within our presentations and have never had an issue of this nature within 30 years of our work in schools.