Shoppers in the UK are being asked to give to charity by buying wooden blocks of “hope” amid a backlash against the use of “chuggers” to raise funds.

“Chuggers” are people who solicit for donations on the streets and outside popular stores – often aggressively.

In a pilot scheme at two Budgens stores launched yesterday, the small blocks are on offer alongside more traditional groceries and on sale for £1 – to be given to the Alzheimer’s Society.

Each block – made from recycled wood – is branded with the word “HOPE” and shelf labels urge consumers: “£1. Buy HOPE for people affected by dementia.”

The blocks, being sold in Crouch End and Belsize Park in north London, are not for keeping and once they have been brought to the till and the donation paid they are returned to the shelves.

Andrew Thornton, owner of the two branches, said that interest in the project had spread and some shoppers had turned up a day early, on Tuesday, to try to buy “hope”.

He said: “Well over a hundred people bought hope yesterday. It is capturing some imagination.”

There had even been suggestions that the stores should branch out into selling “happiness” or “joy” and suggested that in future it could “become aspirational to be seen to be buying hope at the check out”.

Managers are experimenting with placing the blocks at different locations. They are at first being placed alongside impulse-buy chocolates at the till queue.

Budgens is covering the administration cost while advertising agency JWT, that devised the idea, is paying for the blocks.

Philosopher Julian Baggini said that the new scheme came amid a “backlash against chuggers” and could be seen as “something more positive” than using feelings of guilt to persuade people to give to charity.

So-called “chugging” by on-street fundraisers has proved controversial and has been restricted by some councils amid complaints by some members of the public that they can be aggressive and disruptive.

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