Tab Guide to Jailbreak

OCTAVIA SHEEPSHANKS shares her worldly wisdom on Jailbreak – what to wear, who to target, why you should be doing it.

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Ah, Jailbreak. That ‘controversial’ enterprise through which a group of students raise £50,000 a year, others contribute to the cause, and the rest have the nerve to complain about it.

This handy guide from a Jailbreak expert is guaranteed to help you succeed, not only in sailing far away and bringing home the booty, but in telling the antis exactly where they can shove their scepticism, and why.

Advance Preparation: physically…

So do you have a plan yet? If so, this is good, but be prepared to drop it. The worst thing you can do is refuse to be flexible and reject opportunities hoping something better will come along. It probably won’t. If you don’t have a plan, you should make one, but it doesn’t have to be detailed; the main thing to decide is whether you’ll try and hitchhike straight away, or raise money and head somewhere by train. If the former is your calling, you will definitely need a sign. Costumes are also very helpful, whatever you’re doing.

These costumes are really appeeling..

…and mentally.

It’s going to be tough. When you haven’t slept or even sat down in 24 hours, the hundredth person looking right through you as you try and talk to them can really lower your morale. My top tip to combat this is not to judge people on appearances; often the richest people are the stingiest.

My partner Tim and I went to visit a top barrister who was an alumnus of Tim’s college. He gave us £10 and 2 J20s and sent us to visit an even richer barrister, who didn’t give us anything and sent us to an even richer one, an alumnus of my college, who told us we were presumptuous and rude and left me crying on the steps as he vroomed off in his swanky car (we sent him a postcard from Bulgaria). But someone who we wouldn’t have bothered to ask on the tube (you’re also not allowed to fundraise on the tube, btw) asked us what we were doing and gave us £20, and then the whole carriage was moved to donate.

Once you’re on the road,

STOP AT NOTHING. Raise anywhere and everywhere. Try and get into an office, and go round the entire workplace. When evening falls, hide your buckets behind your backs and go round the pubs. Our success story came at 11pm when we were ready to give up. I suggested we try one final pub, The Cambridge, for luck, and there we met Colin, an easy jet pilot, who used his air miles on us and got us flights to Bulgaria (we could have picked anywhere in the EU but Sofia was furthest) for £40.

Just think, you could be one of those girls

Don’t stop fundraising, even retrospectively

One of the most important things to remember is not to stop when you’ve had success. We made an announcement on both planes and raised an extra £300, and when we got back we quickly updated our blog and made even more. Challenges are also really important, as they give you a purpose if you have a day to kill before your return flight, so make sure you get lots of achievable ones (my dad sponsored me £2 for every picture of me with a horse. There were no horses) – see our blog for ideas.

What to say when people say they ‘disapprove’

Yes, this actually happens. You give up a weekend of your life and save hundreds of lives through charity, spurred on by the potential promise of visiting somewhere nice, and people sit smugly in their warm rooms, all up to date with work, and take issue with it. So, here are some good responses to such people, who actually make me want to be sick in my mouth:

I’m not paying for you to have a weekend off work

Patiently explain that if they, too, would like to give up their time raising money and return with a 3-day work back-log, nobody is stopping them.

It’s just a free holiday – why can’t you raise the money and not go away?

Because it is not possible to raise that amount of money without some sort of a concept. People need to have a reason to give their cash away to a total stranger. A load of students raising money ‘for no reason’ is unlikely to tug at people’s heartstrings. Furthermore, what’s great about Jailbreak is the fact that it attracts people who would not usually be raising money. They might sign up for a free holiday, but what they get is a lesson in perseverance and the warm feeling of knowing you’ve helped the world in a big way. (They may also get a holiday, but they’ll probably have to pay for it. Top Secret Hotels on is ideal for this. )

There’s a little of this, but you’ve got to get there first

I’m not giving you money because you’ll spend it on flights

This is a tricky one. The first point to mention is the fact that sponsorship money raised in advance cannot be spent on flights, so it won’t be their money you’ll spend. However it is true that you may well spend some of the money raised over the weekend on travel, so to counter this, pledge that you will only travel somewhere if there will be a net gain. We justified our Bulgaria flights for £80 in total, which we took out of the £300 raised on that day, on the grounds that because we had so many people sponsoring us per mile, we would raise more money in total if we paid for the flights. But be true to yourself – if you know that you have no per mile sponsors and you’re debating whether to spend £400 on return flights to Tel Aviv, my advice is not to do so, and the sceptics will have no cause for complaint.

And finally…

Bring a coat. I arrived in Bulgaria wearing a gold sequinned mini-dress.

It was -15 degrees.

Always be prepared!

The Tab will be running it’s very own Live Jailbreak coverage! Email us tips, stories, worries and triumphs throughout the day at [email protected], or alternatively tweet us @tabcambridge or use the hashtag #ragjailbreak2014