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Charities in Twitter storm over balloon releases

24 May 2012 News

Charities are being urged to abandon balloon releases in a Twitter a campaign.

copyright Helen Warren

Charities are being urged to abandon balloon releases in a Twitter a campaign.

The hashtag #balloonrelease is being used by individual campaigners to pressure charities mentioning up-coming balloon releases into rethinking their plans.

It is being led by Andy Mabbett, who is a trustee and webmaster of West Midland Bird Club who says the action harms wildlife. Individuals participating in the action tweet organisations, including charities planning a balloon release, that “even biodegradable ones harm wildlife”.

Nat Bocking, a community development researcher at Suffolk Acre tweeted: “Charities must lead the way on stopping #balloonrelease each one undermines education about (the) environment.”

He told civilsociety.co.uk that the reason he was calling on charities to speak out was that many of them include having a balloon release in fundraising ideas pack. He added that people and organisations are reluctant to come out against balloon releases: “No one wants to stand up and be called the bad guy and they fear a media backlash from the likes of the Daily Mail.”

The RSPCA has said it will not endorse balloon releases.

One of the charities singled out in the last week was Pancreatic Cancer Action whose supporters released balloons in memory of people who have died from the disease.

A spokeswoman said: “It is not something we have organised but it was a very small number, less than 50, of biodegradable balloons”.

She added that although the organisation did not have a policy specifically on balloon releases, “we are aware of the issue and will be looking at it”.

The campaign caught the eye of NCVO head of policy, research and foresight, Karl Wilding who tweeted: “To be honest I didn’t realise charities still released balloons as a way of awareness and fundraising. Anachronism surely?”


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