You all know how much I witter on about the damage that the conmen can do when they’re after your money. Clever dodges to make you believe something they’re not. But what about those who really are who they purport to be and yest can still cause untold damage? Author S.J.Sprague contacted me this morning regarding a case that has genuinely horrified me. If you want to skip my take on this go directly to http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/11608393/Britains-oldest-poppy-seller-exhaused-by-charity-requests-before-her-death.html you can get the full story .
Basically, last week an amazing lady of 92 years of age named Olive Cooke ended her life by throwing herself into the Avon Gorge. She was Britain’s Oldest Poppy Seller. Her family have said that charity please were a contributing factor into her death. She was bombarded by letters asking for charitable contributions and her phone rang far more frequently than it should with similar requests. It might be easy to dismiss requests in the mail, though she didn’t like to, but far more difficult to refuse when someone on the phone is outlining the desperate straits of someone. At the time of her death she had almost 30 direct debits from her bank to various charities.
Let me be even more direct here and say that up to 10 telephone calls a day and up to 200 written requests a month led to this death. She had a lot of bank charges levied against her because he account was unable to keep pace with the demands on it. She was in debt which is something that doesn’t usually sit well with the elderly. Obviously the bank would have been asking for their money which won’t have helped. These Charities seem to have been passing her name, address and telephone number round like a box of chocolates to be shared. Her grandson compared these charities as a group of sharks circling her.
The law says Under the Data Protection Act any charity planning to pass on people’s personal details to a third party must make clear what they intend to do and gain their consent. I wonder whether this was complied with properly or just a little tick box somewhere that says they’ll pass on details to their ‘partners’ unless the box is ticked. Another issue that is
worrying annoying is that Fundraising is self regulated which to my mind means it’s covered by rules but not legislation. That really needs to change. It should be enough for Charities to be restricted to making 2 telephone calls a year to anyone to request a donation and that should cease if they actually set up a direct debit. They should be allowed to continue with mail drops but again, that should cease once a direct debit is in play. They must have databases capable of doing this. It could be different where a person has made a one off donation and not set up a direct debit. But then perhaps calls and mail drops should be restricted to fresh disasters.
It’s obvious that the charities employ PR firms to create adverts to tug at our heartstrings and probably pay big sums to have TV adverts aired. Maybe these are enough and the phone calls should stop altogether. Only you can decide how you feel about that. But, we have a new Government who are not propped up by any other party now and they can make decisions. So, why not ask your MP to look into this situation based on your feelings about it and prevent a similar tragedy from happening to someone else.
My heartfelt commiserations go out to Mrs. Cooke’s family. Perhaps if her case brings about a change in the methods of asking for donations by these charities it will bring them a measure of peace.
Wishing you all a lovely week.