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.
In my post on April 11th I mentioned how difficult I’ve been finding it to locate certain things. I was starting to wonder if Ju was sending me a message. For instance, when we cleared the garage , Yvonne, Ugo and I created piles for me, the Hospice Charity shops and for Muriel/John ( hereinafter called MuJo). When MuJo came I took them round to the garage, we’d found literally boxes of Ju’s horse figurines and I wanted her to have her choice. I’d put some watercolour paintings to one side for John as I know he likes them, but could they be found? Not a cat in hell’s chance. Either they’d evaporated or some wild rats have discerning taste in nest decor.
Whenever Christmas rolled around Ju would clear the decks to make way for the decorations. My collections on display would disappear and I’d be told they’d be back when the decorations were packed away. That never seemed to happen just as last years tree never seemed to re-appear. The loft ( please God I don’t have to clear that out ) must be full of Christmas trees and collections of old inkwells etc. But, the thing that had most puzzled me was Julia’s laptop bag. It and it’s contents had faded into thin air. I’d torn clumps of hair from my rapidly receding widow’s peak trying to find them. I tried to follow Ju’s logic as to where it would be since it wasn’t actually with the laptop which naturally enough was tucked down beside the settee. OK, I had to admit defeat as women’s logic was always beyond me. But in wanting to give things to the family to remember Ju I have a niece who crafts and that bag contained lots of crafting DVD’s.
On Thursday when Yvonne was with me I’d gone to the pantry and a flash of yellow had caught my eye. I visit the pantry multiple times daily for the accoutrements to cooking or to deposit rubbish in the bin and before Thursday- Nada, but there it was, the flash of yellow. Reaching through the accumulated brushes, ancient hoovers, pan stands and a lightbulb collection that would do a lighthouse justice, I grasped the object in question and out came the upside down laptop bag complete with the DVD’s I wanted. Checking through there was no sign of the also missing tablet bought some months ago. Back to the pantry I went and soon had it in hand. I’m not sure if it still works, or how it works and will have to rely on my nephew’s expertise. He’ll tell me if it’s a toy I need or whether someone else can use it better. The DVD’s will now be able to go to a good home too. But PLEASE someone, explain to me the logic behind having a laptop bag, upside down in a pantry of all places and why it chose to reveal itself at that moment. At some stage I may have to explain to someone why I didn’t decide to look in there purposely as they wearily tap their feet and say, “Huh, s’obvious innit?”.
Well, Wednesday finally arrived. The day started chilly and ended bloody cold. First thing this morning the district nurse came to introduce herself and bring some syringes in case Ju needs an emergency morphine injection at night. That at least meant we were OK for a game of darts before going out. Ju has been saving coins for a while ( mainly from emptying my pockets for me) and once we found out our little girl is pregnant promised to buy a ‘travel system’ which I understand comprises of a pram/pushchair and car seat plus things I can’ remember. Today the bank hated her as she went to change what she (we) had which came to £190.00. Might even be enough left over to buy an iced lolly if it’s warm when the baby gets here in August.
After the bank we took a thank you car and plant into Kassidy’s our local cafe who have been collecting for the Pennant Park Wishes Charity. Carl who owns Pennant Park Riding School had asked us to deliver them when we went to say hello yesterday.He had some excellent news for us- they’ve just started the building work. It’s really fantastic to think that in as little as two weeks the indoor school could be up. It seems planning permission went through like a dream with neighbours even writing in letters of support.
The hard part now is either to raise enough money or find a firm that will sponsor a hydraulic hoist ( or scissor lift)to get the disabled up to the level of the horses to make them easy to mount. The sooner that’s done, the sooner accreditation to the RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association) is given and we can get more disabled children and adults on the backs of horses. The therapy and amount of freedom this gives them is wonderful. The one RDA stables that covers this area is a long way away and has a long waiting list for once weekly three quarter hour sessions. We’d like to see that changed.
Anyway back to the story. We were expecting to meet someone at the cafe, someone we’d met about three years ago and until recently I’d only known as baby-lady because she’d just had a baby at that time. Somehow we found out she’d just left the forces and only just had the baby who was a little sweetie. I left her £10 to buy the baby a present and we’d sort of been friends ever since but with long gaps between meetings. This was to be the first organised meeting and she’d just found out how ill Ju is. It seems she couldn’t make it. So, I had a pot of tea and Ju a bucket ( a coffee in a mug you need two hands for). Then amazingly she decided she was hungry and ordered tomatoes on toast. I didn’t want her to have to eat alone so I forced myself to have a bacon sandwich. I’m brave like that. Really Ju was sulking because the lunchtime special is Simon’s Spag Bol which she loves and since it was still breakfast time she couldn’t have it. We finished and I went to pay but Chris refused. I challenged her to arm wrestle me and beat her so she had to accept payment. I’m lucky Si(mon) was doing the cooking. “See you later” Chris said but I thought it was just one of those throw away remarks people make. We went home and while Ju tackled one of her House Auction programmes I settled to do the 94 emails I’d received since knocking off after my 5.am – 8.30 am shift. I’m convinced every crook with a story of untouchable millions, every con about suspended bank accounts and everyone who wants to tell me my lucky numbers knows my email address.
After what would have been lunch time had I not been forced to eat my sandwich we set off for the RDA stables. I was heart in my mouth all the way scared at what Ju might do to herself. Still, makes a change from being scared about what Ju will do to me I suppose. I’d just taken a seat in the indoor Siberian arena when the trainer announced she was going to give Ju tuition on the outdoor arena today. Muttering under my breath ( spells to warm me up honestly) I waited till Ju had mounted and followed. Mounting was one of the things I was most worried about with Ju’s distended stomach but because she was on the lift all was OK. Outside the below freezing wind was lazy and went through instead of around me. I leant on the gate, frozen in place, while Ju started doing diagonals, or rather the horse did them at Ju’s instruction but you knew what I meant, right? As George ( the horse) walked Ju round I could see her smile and as she drifted past where I was welded she said “I’m loving this, loving it”. Then she got George to canter and far from being scared stiff I became spineless and was able to detach myself from the gate. I watched her going up and down with the smile plastered to her face. I’d had enough and went to wait in the car. It wasn’t many minutes more when I saw George returning sans Ju and then Ju, leaning on Di , her trainer, coming down the path. When she reached me she admitted she’d had a problem trying to dismount the normal way and had to bring her leg over the front and be helped to slide down. She was bushed but happy to be back after five weeks away. Di has told her that maybe in a couple of weeks she can have an extra lesson on a Sunday to make up for the losses. That’s really kind.
We stopped for a cuppa on the way home at a Supermarket where I got her a nice thick jumper in case this cold persists.It was such a nice day yesterday too. We were home by about 4. pm and Ju had a fancy for food again. If riding makes her eat I’ll find a stable to take her twice a day. Her passion was for fish finger sandwiches of all things so I had a tiny pizza. I washed the pots while Ju went to get changed. She goes to bed quite early for comfort and of course she gets tired quite quickly. She hadn’t reached that stage when I had to shout her to open the front door. There were Si and Chris with a large bouquet of flowers for Ju ( rank favouritism) and also two plates of Si’s spag bol for us which we”ll hopefully have tomorrow. They’re a really nice couple and Chris was having fun feeding chocolate drops to the girls while trying to remember which one she dare not risk her finger with. So many people with just so much heart out there it quite chokes me up. There’s hope for mankind after all. More hope if I was getting the bouquets but I suppose I can’t have everything.
Recently ( and most unlike me) I won a book. It’s a most interesting book by Jinx Schwartz called Just add water and is about a woman with a boat who solves crime. Hetta Coffey is the Miss Marple of the Waterways. She has a boat and she’s not afraid to use it !
The problem was I won the book in an American draw and I know how much the postage is. When they messaged me to say I’d won it my conscience was pricked ( who says I don’t have one) and I suggested they have the author sign it and put it in a blind bid competition to raise money for charity. I met an amazing woman called Lita who suggested they do it to raise funds for the people left devastated by Hurricane Sandy in New York where the publication I won the book in is based. It seems a brilliant idea and so I posted a notice on ASMSG which is a site for Authors asking other Authors in the US to consider donating a signed book too. There were a couple of responses but as yet I don’t know how many will actually do so.
Borrowing from Lita’s brilliant idea I thought maybe we in the UK could do something similar in view of the floods we’re currently suffering which so far has left a trail of devastation and the death of an elderly lady, in St.Asaph and Ruthin. I need someone who has contacts with a newspaper or magazine to arrange for them to agree to host the sale and send out the books. Each donated book can either be sold under the authors name or simply given a number that people will bid on for pot luck. I will then start asking my Author friends in the UK to donate.
Signed books make an excellent gift and can even be a great investment if the Author takes off. Everyone wins since the Newspaper gets a good name for charitable works, the donating Authors benefit from a mention and the people who suffered in the floods get much needed help.
If you know of anyone who will donate a signed book for the US side her is the address to send it to before the 8th December
Boating Times Long Island
1 Village Plaza
Kings Park, NY 11754
Fax: 631 544-1016
If you know of anyone who could help co-ordinate help for a UK appeal please let me know and I’ll be glad to make the first donation and will ask others to follow suit. Maybe we can improve someone’s Christmas.