An animal activists' handbook
5. street STALLS
The main activity of most local groups is running street stalls. This is a very effective way to distribute information whilst communicating with the public and fund raising. Street stalls enable your group to give out lots of leaflets and also discuss animal issues with the public on a one to one level. If your group regularly holds stalls in a town centre, people will get used to your presence and will remember to look out for you if they want more information on any particular subject.
HOW TO SET UP A STALL
Before your group sets up its first stall, you'll have to find out two things:
1) Where to position it.
2) Whether you need to get permission first.
The best place to put a stall is on a busy paved shopping precinct, preferably in a sheltered position. We would suggest that two or three of your group go for a walk around your nearest precinct with a notebook and draw a rough plan of the streets, marking on it any suitable looking sites. You should bear in mind that your stall must not block any shop fire exits or obstruct the pedestrian flow.
Once you have decided upon the best site for your stall, you will need to find out whether or not you need permission to do so. There is no law against setting up a stall, but each council has its own set of bye laws regarding its highways. Some councils will allow you to hold stalls anywhere in the precinct whenever you like, but not if you are openly collecting money. Others have very strict restrictions and will only allow stalls in one or two places and you have to obtain a written permit first. Most fall somewhere in between.
In order to find out what type of policy your local council has, you can either contact your local town hall and enquire about this, or simply go along and set up your stall and then wait and see if the police or a council official asks you to move. Indoor precincts are usually privately owned with their own security guards and you are unlikely to be able to get permission to set up a stall anywhere in one.
WHAT TO PUT ON THE STALL
As a group, you will need to decide on the theme for your stall. There are two distinct types of stall, the general information stall and the single issue stall.
The General Information Stall
If you want to educate the public about a wide range of different animal issues and encourage debate and discussion, you should opt for a general information stall. This should contain the following;
* A range of leaflets which cover a wide variety of subjects. We suggest having one on vivisection, one on bloodsports, one on zoos and/or circuses, one promoting the neutering and spaying of animals, one on fur, two or three on animal farming, two or three general animal rights leaflets and one promoting your group and encouraging people to join.
* Free or cheaply priced booklets and information sheets. These should contain further information or vegan recipes for people to try.
* A folder or photograph album full of photographs which show different examples of animal cruelty. You can cut photos out of animal rights magazines or write off to national groups for pictures to use. A booklet has recently been produced called Betrayed which is full of shocking black and white pictures.
* Petitions. We suggest having two petitions about different subjects, one contentious and one very 'populist', such as live exports, hunting or the fur trade.
The Single Issue Stall
This differs from the general information stall in that you use only one type of petition. It is best to have one with a relatively non-contentious theme, one that the majority of people have some degree of sympathy for, such as hunting, cosmetic testing on animals or the fur trade. You still have a variety of leaflets, but you concentrate on giving out the leaflets which directly relate to the petition.
This type of stall is useful for attracting larger numbers of people over. This means that you can distribute a larger amount of leaflets on your chosen issue and it also means that you will be offered more donations from people.
To give an example, (at the time of writing) Ronny helps run stalls which target a well known research company which tests products on animals. The display boards all show pictures of some of the experiments carried out. When people come over, they are asked to sign the petition and when they have finished doing so, they are offered a leaflet which goes into more detail about the experiments carried out and what people can do to help stop them.
Often people will offer donations. It is legal to accept such donations if they are offered to you, but illegal to ask for them. If you don't have a collecting tin or other container and there is no sign anywhere on your stall asking for money, you aren't breaking the law because nobody can claim that you are actually collecting money.
It is up to your group which type of stall to run. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. If you feel confident enough, you can make your stalls even more effective by calling out to people to come and sign your petitions. Shout such slogans as "Help us to stop animal abuse, it only takes a moment of your time. Please sign our petition against...."
HOW TO ARRANGE A STALL
Through trial and error, we have found that the best way to arrange a stall is as follows:
1 = leaflets
2 = pile of info booklets
3 = folder full of photographs
4 = petitions
This arrangement means that people can easily reach the petitions and can clearly see the leaflets when they look up again after signing. Those people who want to read through a booklet or look through the photographs can pick them up and then stand to the side so that they don't obstruct anyone.
The piles of leaflets should be kept tidy and safe from being blown away by the wind. You can either use elastic bands or weigh them down with large stones. The petitions should be kept on clip boards and on windy days you can stop them flapping about by stretching an elastic band around the bottom.
IF YOU DO STALLS REGULARLY
Always get the posters you stick on the stall laminated, to protect them from rain, wear and tear. High street copying shops like Prontaprint are expensive for this, so try back street shops and look under Laminating in the Yellow Pages. At the laminators, always go for the middle grade of plastic.
By the way, the best posters to display are either ones which show 'cute' pictures of animals which stir peoples' conscience as they walk past, or gory ones which leave a lasting impression.
Campaign Against Cruelty An Animal Activists Handbook
available for £4.99 (plus p&p) from Vegetarian Guides, or order it from all good book shops.