Charity Matters Jun/Jul 2018 ISSUE 79

HEARTLESS FRAUD Charitable donations and public money has been sponged up by fraudsters claiming to have been involved in the Greenfell Tower tragedy, to get …

NO ONE TO TURN TO A report for Save The Children into the abuse of children by charity aid workers, No One To Turn To, contains horrific accounts of instances …

NICE WORK Fundraising companies are doing rather well out of charities that employ them and their teams of “chuggers” (charity muggers). A report last month in the …

DEATH OF RSPCA SAVIOUR An RSPCA inspector died trying to save 40 gannets that had been trapped on a rock at Porthchapel Beach, Cornwall during Storm Imogen in …

BIAS COULD LOSE CHARITY STATUS The Legatum Institute, a charity think tank, has been warned by the Charity Commission that it could lose its charitable status if …

KNOW YOUR KNOTWEED Conservation charity Plantlife has issued some information about Japanese knotweed following research which showed that less than 20% of …

NO SKINNY-DIPPING The National Trust has issued warnings based on Health and Safety to members of the public seen swimming naked in its lakes at Woodchester …

HEARTLESS FRAUD

Charitable donations and public money has been sponged up by fraudsters claiming to have been involved in the Greenfell Tower tragedy, to get handouts and stays in hotels.

One fraudster, Joyce Msokeri, 47, from Zimbabwe was jailed for four and a half years in April for convincing charity workers she had lost her husband in the fire and faking trauma to swindle £19,000 and claim a room in a Hilton hotel. Another was Vietnamese illegal immigrant Anh Nhu Nguyen, 57 who was comforted by Prince Charles as he falsely claimed he had lost his wife and son to swindle £11,270. However he was a serial fraudster with 17 aliases and was jailed for 21 months in February.

Also jailed, for 18 months in early June was business student Mohammad Gamoota, 31, who falsely claimed to be the son of a victim to swindle £7,000 and a free stay in a hotel. And two fraudsters, Elaine Douglas, 51, and Tommy Brooks, 52, who both came to the UK from Jamaica illegally 16 years ago face jail after swindling £120,000 in benefits by claiming they lived in Greenfell Tower. They also enjoyed a spend of more than £20,000 on pre-paid credit cards and eight months in a four star hotel costing £400 a night, where they complained about the free food they were given.

Police say that they have arrested another nine individuals, eight men and a woman, suspected of the heartless fraud.

NO ONE TO TURN TO

A report for Save The Children into the abuse of children by charity aid workers, No One To Turn To, contains horrific accounts of instances.

In one case a young boy in Haiti saw an aid worker lure a homeless girl with $1 and then rape her. In another a 14-year-old boy in the Cote D’Ivoire alleged that aid workers would “share” girls and film them.

An investigation in 2008 revealed that in cases of child abuse the families of victims were powerless to act.

NICE WORK

Fundraising companies are doing rather well out of charities that employ them and their teams of “chuggers” (charity muggers).

A report last month in the Daily Mail shows that some of the firms take the first year or so of direct debit donations as their fee, something of which donors will be unaware. One firm, One Sixty Fundraising has charged an upfront fee of £1.303,731 to Unicef, which hopes to raise more than £5million over four years but will have to wait around twelve months before they cover these costs. Another client of the firm, Plan International, have been charged £478,000 plus VAT, with hopes that it can raise £1,304,940 over 5 years, but will not be covering the costs for 27 months. Two firms working for Barnados, Real Fundraising and Urban Leaf Ltd have charged fees of nearly £30,000 with the prospect for Barnados of raising £80-90,000 over five years but waiting around 20 months before costs are covered.

Chuggers are seen by many as unwelcome high pressure sales operatives who pounce on their victims during rush hours and lunch breaks, and in more than 100 towns they are banned from canvassing on certain days. In some parts of Newcastle they have been banned altogether, using Public Spaces Protection Orders.

DEATH OF RSPCA SAVIOUR

An RSPCA inspector died trying to save 40 gannets that had been trapped on a rock at Porthchapel Beach, Cornwall during Storm Imogen in 2016, an inquest has heard.

Mike Reid, 54, is the only RSPCA employee to have ever been killed during the course of his job in the last 180 years and it is thought he was swept out to sea during the violent storm, which had wind gusts reaching 100 mph. His body has never been recovered.

BIAS COULD LOSE CHARITY STATUS

The Legatum Institute, a charity think tank, has been warned by the Charity Commission that it could lose its charitable status if it continues to publish biased material.

The Institute published a pro-Brexit report on Brexit and free trade prepared by its research body, the Special Trade Commission, and claimed when challenged that the bias was “wholly unintentional”.

KNOW YOUR KNOTWEED

Conservation charity Plantlife has issued some information about Japanese knotweed following research which showed that less than 20% of the population could identify it growing near their property or in their garden.

Getting it wrong can be expensive – the plant can penetrate cracks in brickwork and concrete and has roots that can grow down as far as 9 feet, and out 21 feet in all directions – and getting rid of it can cost up to £15,000. Plantlife advise to look for lush green heart-shaped leaves on zig-zag purple-speckled stems. The rhizomes, the horizontal roots that produce the white shoots, are bright orange when cut open. In spring reddish purple shoots emerge from ground level crimson buds, and grow into bamboo-like canes flecked with purple and with cream-coloured flowers. These canes die back to ground level in the winter.

In a recent court case two homeowners in South Wales successfully sued Network Rail after knotweed spread from a railway embankment to the foundations of their houses. This made them unsalable, as banks and building societies won’t give mortgages on properties with a knotweed problem. However this could change as recent research by the University of Leeds and infrastructure services firm AECOM shows that the invasive plant very rarely causes structural damage and in any case less than trees, climbing plants and shrubs such as buddleia growing near buildings.

NO SKINNY-DIPPING

The National Trust has issued warnings based on Health and Safety to members of the public seen swimming naked in its lakes at Woodchester Park, near Stroud, Gloucestershire.

One complainant stated on social media that the dippers were “scaring the carp and making her and her dog feel sick” A Trust spokesman told the press “For one thing the water is very cold”.

Charity Matters Apr/May 2018 ISSUE 78

DAZED AND CONFUSED Some small charities in the sector admit that they are unsure whether or not they are compliant with the new GDPR standards (General Data …

RNIB INVESTIGATED Investigations are taking place at the Royal National Institute for Blind People’s (RNIB) Pears Centre for Specialist Learning near Coventry following a …

CHARITIES TOO? The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is set to get new powers to hold directors of nuisance call companies personally liable for payment of …

BLIND STUPIDITY? Two in three of the UK’s health trusts are ignoring new orders to offer cataract surgery to all those sufferers whose doctors believe they would benefit…

FILLING THEIR BOOTS FROM CHARITY A charitable scheme to supply cars for disabled people in exchange for their state disability allowance has been slammed …

KILL A BADGER FOR £50 A new government scheme has been launched to kill badgers, a protected species, in areas of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) outbreaks, even …

CHARITY OFFICER JAILED A jail sentence of one year has been given to a charity finance officer who stole more than £53,000. Gemma Mason, 36, bought more than …

DO AS WE SAY, NOT DO The Church of England has been accused of hypocrisy for attacking greedy City bonus cultures after it has emerged that their charity …

DAZED AND CONFUSED

Some small charities in the sector admit that they are unsure whether or not they are compliant with the new GDPR standards (General Data Protection Regulations) which came into force at 12:01 am on Friday May 25.

These require organisations to ensure that they have consent to directly contact those who are not currently dealing with them, such as potential customers, subscribers or donors. They also give these groups the right to know what data is held on them and what use it is put to, as well as the right to be able to easily unsubscribe from contact lists, a right that also applies to customers.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has been at pains to reassure organisations that the Draconian fines quoted in some media of up to 20 million euros, or 4% of turnover, whichever is the greater, apply to persistent lawbreakers, rather than those who seek advice from ICO on how to comply, and then act on it.

The new regulations have seen lots of organisations seeking permission to carry on emailing, and given lots of victims the chance to not respond and thus conveniently unsubscribe, actions that an email from the Labour Party claimed would “ruin Jeremy Corbyn’s birthday”.