Stafford or Stamford, Lincs?

  1. Where does Mr D Jones live? He’s the winner apparently of second prize in the latest prize draw organised in the name of the charity Open Doors (registered charity number: 1006623) and its “Supporting our Heroes” campaign.
  2. He lives in Stafford, according to Dove Promotions, the official professional fundraiser: see the results of the 16 February 2015 prize draw on its website at 18 March 2015: http://web.archive.org/web/20150318161135/http://www.dovepromotionsltd.co.uk/dove-promotions-latest-news.php. But Open Doors says that D Jones is a resident of Stamford, Lincs: here is supposedly the same results on its website also at 18 March 2015: http://web.archive.org/web/20150318161351/http://www.open-doors.org.uk/skill-prize-draw/.
  3. What’s the difference between Stafford and Stamford, Lincs? About 100 miles: Stafford is in the West Midlands of England, while Stamford, Lincs is in the East Midlands.
  4. Though there’s no discrepancy between the two websites on how much of the £2.50 prize draw ticket price goes to the charity. Both still fail to disclose the proportion. Andy Pilley, the chairman of Fleetwood Town Football Club, has conducted draws for Dove Promotions. Yet he, too, declined to tell me the answer, ignoring my emails (28 November 2014 and 8 December 2014). I contacted Mr Pilley after both the charity and the official professional fundraiser were unwilling to answer the legitimate question. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/11/28/can-andy-pilley-tell-us-how-much-of-the-ticket-price-goes-to-charity-open-doors/)
  5. A final point: the disappearing “Our Supporters” page on the Open Doors website. In June 2014, the web page proclaimed: “This section is dedicated to all the companies and individuals that have supported us over the years. Without whose help Open Doors would not exist.” But beneath it said only: “Under Construction”. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/open-doors-our-supporters-web-page-under-construction/) Well, the page was still there in August 2014 and it was still, er, “Under Construction”, as the snapshot at 22 August 2014 shows: http://web.archive.org/web/20140822062549/http://www.open-doors.org.uk/our-supporters. Now though the “Our Supporters” page has vanished.
  6. Perhaps D Jones – wherever he is – can state how much of the £2.50 Dove Promotions ticket price goes to charity Open Doors. He might also be able to explain what’s happened to the “Our Supporters” page on the charity’s website. D Jones does exist, doesn’t he?
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Why is Asda failing customers on charity collections? Part Four

  1. This is the final part of a four-part investigation into questionable charity collections at an Asda store in Manchester. Here I make some observations and recommendations after my experiences with Everyone’s Children’s Trust (registered charity number: 1127302) and Oldham Owls Disabled Sports Club (registered charity number: 504371). I also show that there are serious concerns about Orkidz Children’s Trust (registered charity number: 1121948) and Make Them Smile (registered charity number: 1150013), two children’s charities linked to Everyone’s Children’s Trust.
  2. The first thing to say is that I’m disappointed at the conduct of the manager of Asda Longsight and his staff including the customer service manager. They deliberately acted to avoid scrutiny of both the charity collections in their store and the public record of those collections (see part one of this investigation).
  3. Not only did the store try to fob me off and then cover up. But Asda is putting the public across the UK at risk. My investigation shows that it is failing to exercise due diligence on charities and their collectors.
  4. Supermarkets are important fundraising venues for legitimate charities. Unfortunately, they can also be important sources of funds for bogus charities and/or bogus collectors, as the recent case involving Help for Heroes (registered charity number: 1120920) shows. In September 2014, Christopher Copeland of Devon was jailed for four and a half years after admitting stealing £300 000 of donations collected in the name of the high-profile military charity. He’d organised bogus collections at supermarkets around the country. (http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/sep/15/help-for-heroes-conman-jailed-300000-donations)
  5. None of the media reports I’ve seen (including that I’ve cited) explain why Copeland almost got away with it, what made the public vulnerable at the stores. How could the money end up in his personal bank accounts? Supermarkets are private sites and as such collectors for legitimate charities (or not) require only the owner’s permission. His fraud wouldn’t have been possible if he’d organised street collections because these must be licensed by the local authority. There is no scrutiny of money flows without a street collection permit. Hence the risk of charity fraud at supermarkets and other private sites.
  6. Neither Everyone’s Children’s Trust nor Oldham Owls Disabled Sports Club collects on the street, I confirmed in writing. It isn’t only about scrutiny of money flows though. Licensing sections in councils are experienced at due diligence on charities and their collections (they also have access to information from other authorities). Charity collections in supermarkets are not subject to that scrutiny: collectors there have only to obtain the owner’s permission. And here I have shown that Asda is failing to exercise due diligence on charities and their collectors. Simple, routine checks seem not to have been made (see parts two and three of this investigation).
  7. There is an urgent need for Asda to learn from railway stations, another class of private sites popular for charity fundraising. In October 2014, seven of the major rail and station operators joined forces to commit to safer giving measures in their stations. (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/rail-companies-join-forces-to-champion-safer-giving) The new measures include introduction of a standardised application process for charities wishing to fundraise on their premises and closer monitoring of charity collections. One simple requirement is for charities to have filed their annual charity return information on time with the Charity Commission – a very low test failed by Everyone’s Children’s Trust and Oldham Owls Disabled Sports Club.
  8. Unfortunately, the questionable charity collections at Asda Longsight aren’t limited to Everyone’s Children’s Trust and Oldham Owls Disabled Sports Club. As usual, the store is currently inviting shoppers to vote for one of three local “good causes” to receive funding from the Asda Foundation (registered charity number: 1124268). Customers receive a green token each time they pay to put in a box for the cause they want to support. Yet the public are also using the boxes to donate cash even if that’s not Asda’s intention (the money is visible inside the transparent boxes). Two of the current three proposed local “good causes” are suspicious, not least because both are linked to Everyone’s Children’s Trust (and Buttercup Children’s Trust (registered charity number: 1128027)).
  9. Again, they are both children’s charities: Orkidz Children’s Trust (registered charity number: 1121948) and Make Them Smile (registered charity number: 1150013). Make Them Smile was previously called Dreams & Wishes Children’s Trust. Again, Tony Stirk is registered owner of both domain names, orkidz.org.uk and makethemsmile.org.uk (source: WHOIS records). Again, they are both connected to Bradford: Orkidz Children’s Trust has an office there, according to its website; while Make Them Smile is apparently located in that city only.
  10. On 19 October 2014, I saw a man at Asda Longsight collecting donations for Orkidz Children’s Trust. I don’t know whether its collectors have been there before or since. But as for the linked Everyone’s Children’s Trust, it is clear that Asda is exposing shoppers across the country to collections in the name of Orkidz Children’s Trust. Here is the charity at Asda Bridgwater, Somerset April 2013, for example: http://greenroom.asda.com/store/bridgwater/photo/kRvsMjTX. The collector I encountered at Asda Longsight had the same display board as in that photo except it showed the address of the Bradford office instead of the Birmingham one there. “Children’s cancer appeal”, it proclaims.
  11. Yet searching online for “children’s cancer appeal” with the charity’s name produces no hits, which is obviously suspicious. No independent references online to the alleged appeal – but no references even on the charity’s website either. Ridiculous.
  12. The website shares many of the characteristics of the one Tony Stirk created for Everyone’s Children’s Trust. Both are unconvincing and non-transparent. So again the “Appeals” page hasn’t changed over time: the same two apparently current appeals, “Danny” and “Harry”, appear at 1 June 2014 (https://web.archive.org/web/20140601064857/http://orkidz.org.uk/Appeals.html) and 20 February 2015 (https://web.archive.org/web/20150220172457/http://www.orkidz.org.uk/Appeals.html). The homepage hasn’t changed over time either: it’s the same at 1 June 2014 (https://web.archive.org/web/20140601070217/http://orkidz.org.uk/index.html) and 3 March 2015 (https://web.archive.org/web/20150303110717/http://orkidz.org.uk/index.html). The homepage is vague about who exactly the charity helps, claiming that it is for children with “a broad scope of serious health conditions”.
  13. The “Contact Us” page describes how to apply for a grant – here it is at 20 February 2015: https://web.archive.org/web/20150220173956/http://www.orkidz.org.uk/ContactUs.html. It laughingly says only: “If you or a family you know fit our criteria then please don’t hesitate to contact us.” But what exactly are the criteria and where are they? Also, there is no application form for funding, as for the linked Everyone’s Children’s Trust (see part two of this investigation).
  14. Screenshots of the websites for both Orkidz Children’s Trust and Buttercup Children’s Trust appear on the “web design, build and hosting service” page of the website of GT Photo, Mr Stirk’s company. Here is that page at 2 September 2014: http://www.freezepage.com/1409671189OKDFYOVRYV.
  15. I now turn to an important link between Orkidz Children’s Trust and the two charities, Everyone’s Children’s Trust and Buttercup Children’s Trust. Part two of this investigation showed how the last two charities started life as companies set up by the shadowy CRSA Ltd in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex. Everyone’s Children’s Trust began as CRSA Stock 7, while Buttercup Children’s Trust was initially CRSA Stock 9. Well, CRSA Ltd also created Orkidz Children’s Trust: it was previously called CRSA Stock 6.
  16. The photo of Orkidz Children’s Trust at Asda Llanelli Murray Street, Wales September 2013 clearly demonstrates a failure of due diligence at that store: http://greenroom.asda.com/store/llanelli/photo/sVp3fLmQ. Here the Asda employee states: “I was pleased to support Orkidz childrens [sic] cancer appeal in store today. This charity is new to us in Llanelli, and many customers wanted to know more about it, luckily the volunteers were on hand to give information, well done and hope to see you again soon.” Oh dear.
  17. Inadequate due diligence at Asda Living Barnsley, too, where “great charity” Orkidz Children’s Trust apparently raised more than £400 in February 2013: http://greenroom.asda.com/store/cortonwood-living/photo/ld0Zj67u. There are plenty more photos of Orkidz Children’s Trust collectors at Asda stores around the country on the company’s Green Room website. (http://greenroom.asda.com)
  18. Bad news for anyone wanting to buy online Orkidz Children’s Trust branded clothing such as that worn by the collectors at Asda Bridgwater and Asda Llanelli Murray Street. On 1 June 2014, the “online shop” on the charity’s website was “coming soon!” (https://web.archive.org/web/20140601065719/http://orkidz.org.uk/OnlineShop.html). And at 6 March 2015 it’s still, er, “coming soon!” (https://web.archive.org/web/20150306114505/http://www.orkidz.org.uk/OnlineShop.html).
  19. One final point about Orkidz Children’s Trust: its accounts and annual returns are overdue at the Charity Commission. Sound familiar?
  20. Now, Make Them Smile. How is it linked to Everyone’s Children’s Trust other than via Tony Stirk for domain name registration and location in Bradford? Two of the three trustees of Make Them Smile, the charity, are also directors of Make Them Smile, the company (company number: 07525980). Martin Stirk (any relation?) is the other director of the company, but isn’t a trustee of the charity. Well, Martin Stirk appears in the “list of all genuine agents” of Everyone’s Children’s Trust on its homepage at 30 May 2014. (https://web.archive.org/web/20140530180449/http://everyones.org.uk/index.html) Also, Mr M Eggleston is the other trustee of Make Them Smile, the charity, but isn’t a director of the company. There are three people with family name Eggleston in the “list of all genuine agents” of Everyone’s Children’s Trust on its homepage at 30 May 2014.
  21. Asda Longsight has received awards from Andy Clarke, Asda chief executive, for the store’s “outstanding support in your local community”. The store proudly displays consecutive awards for 2012, 2013 and 2014. It certainly seems that a lot of money is being raised: at 1 December 2014, for example, a public notice announced: “So far this year we’ve raised £12 083.05 for local good causes in our community. Thank you all for your generosity and support.” But Mr Clarke should spend less time giving awards to Asda Longsight. Rather he should be concerned about protecting shoppers there and around the UK from those who abuse the generosity of the public. Asda is trusted. Customers rightly expect his stores to scrutinise charities and their collectors. Unfortunately, a registered charity number is necessary but not sufficient to assess credibility. Asda, by failing to exercise due diligence, isn’t just undermining confidence and trust in charities and charitable giving. The UK’s second largest supermarket also damages its own reputation. What makes it worse, Asda has needlessly prolonged the time it is putting the public across the UK at risk by deliberately blocking my enquiries.

Why is Asda failing customers on charity collections? Part Three

  1. This is part three of a four-part investigation into questionable charity collections at an Asda store in Manchester. Here I describe my experience with the charity Oldham Owls Disabled Sports Club (registered charity number: 504371). It is a disability sports club, as the name suggests.
  2. The charity’s fundraising is frequent and highly organised, yet there is insufficient public information about Oldham Owls Disabled Sports Club and its activities. It no longer has a website. Finding reliable information about this opaque charity is a challenge. What information there is, is seriously out of date, incomplete and confusing. The public contact was unresponsive at first and then tried to fob me off, before deciding to answer legitimate questions. Yet most of her answers were unsatisfactory. Finally, the charity refused to disclose electronic copies of its two letters that had been on a notice board for shoppers at the store in Manchester July 2014. Oldham Owls Disabled Sports Club is not sufficiently open, transparent and accountable to the public.
  3. On the evening of 29 July 2014, I saw two letters from the charity on a notice board for shoppers at the Asda store in Longsight, Manchester. These were letters to the store reporting amounts collected there. One dated 5 June 2014 stated that £411.18 had been raised for the charity’s “Help Our Athletes” fund. While the other dated 30 June 2014 recorded a total of £1701.54 for its “Grassroots Development” fund. More about the letters at the end.
  4. I was unaware of Oldham Owls Disabled Sports Club before seeing the letters. But I was straightaway seriously concerned for three reasons after checking the charity for the first time on the Charity Commission public register. First, the charity was and still is not up to date with its annual reporting requirements. Second, there was and still is no email address for the named public contact. Third, the charity’s website, oldhamowls.org.uk, listed on the register didn’t and still doesn’t exist.
  5. I became even more concerned as I started to encounter by chance people collecting money in its name at Asda Longsight. The first time was on the evening of 10 September 2014 when I saw a lone female collector in a red bib. She had a display board with a cartoon of a man in a wheelchair and the following text: “Disabled sports; please help; Owls; registered charity; mobile 07971 076 290”.
  6. Her display board raised three questions about the fundraising. First, the information there was vague: it was unclear that the collection was for a disability sports club and didn’t use the full name of the charity. Second, the assertion that the collection is for a registered charity is useless: the public need to know the registration number so that they can actually check it [the number]. Third, the telephone number was a mobile.
  7. The Charity Commission explicitly warns the public not to donate to collections where fundraising materials only bear a mobile number – see the fourth of nine checks the commission recommends in the London-wide safer giving campaign: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/commission-backs-london-wide-safer-giving-campaign. More about the mobile number later.
  8. Two days later I saw the same female collector at the store. This time I spoke to her, asking for the registered charity number. She pointed to the number on the collection pot. But the very small font meant it wasn’t easily visible. I wouldn’t have seen the number unless she’d directed me.
  9. I then saw the charity’s collectors at the store on three occasions in December 2014: 11th, 14th, 30th. Each time another display board was used. Although the registration number was now shown, the charity name in any form wasn’t. It said: “Disabled athletes; support the Paralympics”. There was an email address: helpourathletes@sky.com. Then it gave the same mobile number as before, but for the “Development fund organisers”. So again no landline number and no website.
  10. Searching online for the address helpourathletes@sky.com produces no hits, which is suspicious. Further, it was unclear why the address was for a “development” fund when it would seem appropriate for the charity’s alleged “Help Our Athletes” fund.
  11. On 14 December 2014, I was particularly struck by how organised the fundraising was. There was a team of collectors in-store that day, male and female, some in wheelchairs. All had red bibs like the woman in September. I couldn’t understand why the charity’s entry on the Charity Commission public register was so worryingly out of date and incomplete, given the level and organisation of fundraising I experienced randomly at just one store over a few months.
  12. Why exactly did the charity’s website listed on the register not exist? The registration of the domain name, oldhamowls.org.uk, had last been updated 10 April 2014, to expire 14 May 2016 (source: WHOIS records). So where was the website?
  13. Searching online I found a Facebook page for “Oldham – Tameside Owls Disability Sports Club”: https://www.facebook.com/TamesideOwls. There was no indication that this was a charity: it wasn’t described as such and there was no registration number. But there was an email address, if no name: neeliered@yahoo.co.uk.
  14. I then visited the British Wheelchair Basketball website to see if I could find out about the charity that way: gbwba.org.uk. Using my location as Oldham, the club finder returned Tameside Owls in Stalybridge as the nearest club. (Oldham Owls Disabled Sports Club isn’t on the club finder.) The club entry showed a mobile number only, a different one to that I’d encountered in the fundraising. The website of Tameside Owls was listed as www.theowls.org.uk. There was no mention of charity status or reference to the Facebook page. Finally, the email address for the club was also neeliered@yahoo.co.uk – but again the name of the public contact wasn’t disclosed.
  15. The Tameside Owls website, theowls.org.uk, listed on the British Wheelchair Basketball website didn’t exist either. In fact, the domain name, theowls.org.uk, hasn’t been registered (source: WHOIS records). Registration hadn’t been renewed at expiry 25 February 2013.
  16. Nicky Evans, membership officer at British Wheelchair Basketball, told me in an email that the public contact for the club was Eileen Lloyd. So the public contact for Tameside Owls was also that for Oldham Owls Disabled Sports Club, since Ms Lloyd is listed as such on the Charity Commission public register – but without an email address. I finally had her email address.
  17. On 16 December 2014, I wrote to Ms Lloyd asking the following five questions. First, why is your charity not up to date with its annual reporting requirements? Second, why is Mr Zbigniew Micek still listed as a trustee on the Charity Commission public register, when he died in November 2011? Third, the charity website, oldhamowls.org.uk, listed on the register doesn’t seem to exist. Why not? Fourth, what is the exact relationship between the Oldham Owls Disabled Sports Club and Tameside Owls, the wheelchair basketball club? Fifth, the Tameside Owls website, www.theowls.org.uk, listed on the British Wheelchair Basketball website doesn’t seem to exist. Why not?
  18. Having heard nothing, I sent another message 23 December 2014. But again to no avail. I therefore tried again 30 December 2014, instead using the address on the display board in the store, helpourathletes@sky.com. This time I got a same-day response – from Brian Brewis, who said that he was the fundraising organiser. The next day Mr Brewis added that he had no “dealings with the running and organising of the club”, so couldn’t answer my five questions about the charity.
  19. On 1 January 2015, I heard from Ms Lloyd: “I understand your concerns regarding the charity but can assure you that the Charity Commission are aware of the unfortunate circumstances that have befallen the club and have accepted our situation. Trustees are in the process of being updated as is the club website and accounts. As the Charity Commission are being kept informed of our situation and have accepted our circumstances there is nothing for me to report to you.” In my 4 January 2015 response I said she hadn’t actually answered any of the five questions, adding that I was astonished. Why wasn’t her charity happy to answer questions from the public?
  20. Now I return to the mobile number. In his messages fundraising organiser Mr Brewis disclosed his mobile number without prompting, and it was the same as that on the display boards for the in-store collections. Yet his mobile number appeared as the club number on the authoritative Deloitte Parasport website at the same time. Deloitte Parasport is run by the British Paralympic Association (BPA) with support from the professional services firm Deloitte. Here is the listing there for “Oldham Owls Sports Club” (note: no “Disabled”) at 6 January 2015: freezepage.com/1420556058ILVOUUQZJE. Note too that another email address for the club appears there, owls@dsl.pipex.com, adding to the confusion. But, as you can see, there wasn’t much about the club in its entry on Deloitte Parasport. No address or name of public contact, for example. Also, again it showed the non-existent www.oldhamowls.org.uk as club website. Deloitte Parasport told me in an email that the club had registered with it 3 October 2013.
  21. On 13 January 2015, I asked Mr Brewis to explain why his mobile number was shown as the club number on Deloitte Parasport if, as he claimed, he organised fundraising only. Mr Brewis said that he was unaware that his number appeared there for that purpose and didn’t know why it did. The club had told him that it had “no idea” either, he added.
  22. Deloitte Parasport made it clear to me that clubs are responsible for maintaining their own listings on its directory. Although the club has now amended its listing, it still doesn’t provide an address.
  23. On 22 January 2015, I heard again from Ms Lloyd, but this time she wanted to answer the five questions in my first message to the charity (16 December 2014). She now said that she’d been “in hospital” when first replying. Yet most of her answers were unsatisfactory.
  24. The charity was not up to date with its annual reporting requirements because three committee members had recently died after “terminal illnesses”. The three were: Mr Zbigniew Micek, treasurer; Mr David Foden, chairman; Mr Stuart Harrison, chairman. The three deaths had “put undue pressure and responsibility on the remaining committee members”.
  25. I already knew that Mr Micek had died November 2011, as his date of death is on the public record in local newspapers: I’d mentioned it in my first message to the charity. So I asked Ms Lloyd when the other two had died, only because she’d explicitly referred in her answer to these three and their deaths. Mr Foden apparently died April 2013, followed by Mr Harrison May 2014.
  26. Although two of the three, Mr Micek and Mr Harrison, are listed as trustees on the Charity Commission public register, there are six other trustees, including Ms Lloyd. The Charity Commission states that all trustees are collectively responsible for filing a charity’s annual return and accounts, even if the task is given to one person such as the treasurer. (http://www.theguardian.com/voluntary-sector-network/2015/jan/26/tips-submitting-charity-annual-accounts) Further, it’s not as if the charity’s documents are overdue by only a few days. At 11 March 2015 its accounts for 30 September 2011 are 954 days overdue, while its annual return for 30 September 2009 is 1685 days overdue.
  27. Failure to file accounts and annual returns on time is a serious issue. It’s actually a criminal offence. Filing on time is an important way charities maintain transparency and remain accountable to the public. Not filing on time “amounts to mismanagement and/or misconduct in the administration of a charity and is often linked with poor governance issues”, says the Charity Commission. (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/regulator-urges-charities-with-january-deadline-to-file-on-time-and-online)
  28. That all trustees are collectively responsible for filing a charity’s annual return and accounts means that Ms Lloyd’s explanation for why Mr Micek is still listed as a trustee on the Charity Commission public register, when he died in November 2011, is not credible. She told me that removal of Mr Micek’s name as a trustee had been the responsibility of now also deceased trustee Mr Harrison.
  29. Mr Harrison had also apparently been responsible for maintaining the two non-existent websites, oldhamowls.org.uk and www.theowls.org.uk. Remember Mr Harrison died May 2014, according to Ms Lloyd. But when the website www.oldhamowls.org.uk did exist, it was very out of date, I have discovered.
  30. So at 22 October 2012 the website oldhamowls.org.uk existed, according to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine: https://web.archive.org/web/20121022153751/http://www.oldhamowls.org.uk/. But at 7 January 2013, the next time the Internet Archive Wayback Machine saved the site, it no longer existed and didn’t subsequently. Although the website existed at 22 October 2012, it seems to have been very out of date then: the homepage shows that it was “last modified” 19 March 2007. Similarly, the “News” page, most recently saved at 12 January 2012 on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, reports that it was “last modified” 28 February 2007: https://web.archive.org/web/20120112223212/http://www.oldhamowls.org.uk/news.htm. (That page describes a club event that took place 16 February 2007.)
  31. There are many issues with the website at 22 October 2012, apart from it being so out of date. The “Fundraising” page, for example, most recently saved at 25 January 2012, has nothing on it – about fundraising or anything else. But the page does show that it was “last modified” 14 February 2006: https://web.archive.org/web/20120125121606/http://www.oldhamowls.org.uk/fund.htm. In short, there are serious questions about the charity’s website, both when it existed and now that it doesn’t. That Mr Harrison apparently died May 2014 fails to address these.
  32. A final point on the two non-existent websites: Ms Lloyd said nothing about the Facebook page that I’d found.
  33. Yet Ms Lloyd did now say something about the exact relationship between the Oldham Owls Disabled Sports Club and Tameside Owls: “The club still plays under the name of Oldham Owls but we use the name Tameside Owls to distinguish between European and National League Competitions.”
  34. It is important to note that Ms Lloyd now invited me to visit one of the club’s training sessions and to meet the committee in person. Acknowledging that this was an important offer, I said that I didn’t think it would be necessary.
  35. On 9 February 2015, I had one final request for the charity and it concerned the two letters I saw last July on that notice board at Asda Longsight. I asked Ms Lloyd to send electronic copies.
  36. The letters were suspicious for a number of reasons, not least because searching online for either of the fund names there, “Help Our Athletes” and “Grassroots Development”, with “Oldham Owls Disabled Sports Club” produces no hits. Another concern was that they named high-profile Paralympic athletes from sports other than wheelchair basketball, stating that these individuals were involved with and/or endorsed Oldham Owls Disabled Sports Club. The letters appeared amateurish and unconvincing, I remember.
  37. In her reply a week later (16 February 2015), Ms Lloyd said that the committee meeting 18 February 2015 would consider my request for the documents. She “will then be in a position to respond”. But to date I have heard nothing.

Why is Asda failing customers on charity collections? Part Two

  1. This is part two of a four-part investigation into questionable charity collections at an Asda store in Manchester. Here I describe my experience with the charity Everyone’s Children’s Trust (registered charity number: 1127302). It is a children’s charity, as the name suggests.
  2. There are serious concerns with the charity’s website, which is unconvincing and non-transparent. The application form for funding that it refers to only appeared after I’d asked where it was. Further, both formats of the application form reveal that each file was only created after my query. The public contact, a charity trustee, named (first name only) the fundraising coordinator allegedly responsible for a collection of interest at the store in Manchester, and said he lives in the city. The trustee told me this before I disclosed that I had seen a letter to the store from the charity at a Bradford address – the letter identified the fundraising coordinator, a woman, who is also a Bradford resident. Finally, the charity has failed to file its latest accounts and annual return on time – a criminal offence – and declined to tell me when these would be available. Stop press: the trustees have just closed Everyone’s Children’s Trust, it seems. So the latest accounts and annual return won’t be available.
  3. On 12-13 June 2014, I saw a collection for Everyone’s Children’s Trust at the Asda store in Longsight, Manchester. Before this, I’d encountered its collectors there a few times in recent years.
  4. On the evening of 29 July 2014, I saw the charity’s letter from a Bradford address to Asda Longsight, reporting the amount collected 12-13 June 2014. The letter was on a notice board for shoppers. It was signed by Zoey Telemacque, “events team”.
  5. The charity’s website looked and looks dodgy, making me suspicious: everyones.org.uk. Here is the homepage at 7 August 2014: http://www.freezepage.com/1407422601FHPCUZOWON. There have never been any names anywhere on the unconvincing website from my first visit July 2014.
  6. What text there is, is badly written and the grammar poor: see the “Our Appeals” page, for example. Here it is at 30 July 2014: http://www.freezepage.com/1406739994PRUQTWSVAR. As you can see, there were and are no dates or any other supporting evidence for the children and their families the charity says it has helped. The page hasn’t changed since that snapshot I created July 2014, as the page at 10 March 2015 shows: https://web.archive.org/web/20150310102601/http://www.everyones.org.uk/Our_Appeals.html.
  7. But the most serious problems with the website concern the application form for funding. The application form is referred to on two pages: the homepage and the “Grant Application” page. At 7 August 2014 the homepage stated: “If you, or someone you know need our help, please get in touch, follow this link for an application form.” Yet there was no link attached to “this link”. (http://www.freezepage.com/1407422601FHPCUZOWON) In fact, even now that sentence hasn’t changed and there is no link. (https://web.archive.org/web/20150310053239/http://www.everyones.org.uk/index.html) Turning to the “Grant Application” page, here it is at 7 August 2014: http://www.freezepage.com/1407422423BBKLCVXOFW. There it says: “If you are in need of help, or you know someone who needs our help, please complete our on line application form.” Yet there was no “on line application form” on that page or link to such. On 12 September 2014, this sentence became what it is now: “If you are in need of help, or you know someone who needs our help, please download and complete our application form.” (https://web.archive.org/web/20150310054015/http://www.everyones.org.uk/Grant_Application.html)
  8. As of 12 September 2014 the page also actually had links to an application form, in Word and PDF formats. But the application form only appeared after I’d asked where it was.
  9. Initially, Everyone’s Children’s Trust was unresponsive: I sent two emails to the address listed on the website and public register (11 August 2014 and 18 August 2014), but to no avail. Nothing. On 8 September 2014, I then wrote to Tony Stirk, registered owner of the domain name, everyones.org.uk (source: WHOIS records). In his reply two days later Mr Stirk said about the website: “The links did work correctly when I built it but obviously something has gone terribly wrong.” He would “make right what is wrong as soon as possible”, amending the homepage to say: “Due to technical difficulties our website is temporary [sic] unavailable.” Here is the homepage at 10 September 2014: http://www.freezepage.com/1410361168VSCBIWUTTT.
  10. On 10 September 2014, I also heard for the first time from charity trustee Maurice Rayton, who is listed as public contact on the Charity Commission register. (Remember: there have been no names anywhere on the charity’s website from my first visit July 2014.) He stated: “Due to you bringing it to our attention it would appear that there are many errors on the website that need resolving. We are led to believe this is a server error.” Mr Rayton hadn’t responded to my two emails in August because “emails have stopped forwarding to our address”. Finally, he explained the absence of the application form thus: “The link to the application form has stopped working and I’m assured that will be corrected today.”
  11. The charity then became unresponsive again: I heard nothing after two emails to the address trustees@everyones.org.uk, 19 September 2014 and 26 September 2014. On 3 October 2014, I therefore emailed Mr Stirk to see if he could help again. He told me the next day: “I cannot explain why your emails are not being answered, the emails are definitely going through.” I finally heard again from Mr Rayton 14 October 2014, where he explained the delay: he’d been “in hospital”.
  12. Remember how Mr Rayton in his first email had explained the absence of the application form on the website: “The link to the application form has stopped working and I’m assured that will be corrected today.” The website reappeared 12 September 2014. It now actually had links to an application form, in Word and PDF formats, at least on the “Grant Application” page. But both files reveal in document properties that they were only created 11 September 2014 when you open them. So the application form could only have been available on the website on or after 11 September 2014: the form did not exist before then.
  13. Now I turn to the issue of the fundraising coordinator in Manchester. Initially, I didn’t disclose to Mr Rayton that I’d seen the charity’s letter to Asda Longsight signed by Zoey Telemacque in Bradford. At this stage I asked him for the name and email address of the person who coordinates collections for Everyone’s Children’s Trust in Manchester and Greater Manchester, summer 2014 onwards. He had already confirmed to me 14 October 2014 that the same person was responsible for both areas, adding: “we are voluntary run and therefore do not have any permenent [sic] members of staff.” He finished by asking why I was seeking the information. My answer 21 October 2014: “After seeing collectors for Everyone’s Children’s Trust several times in Manchester, I visited your website. There I had expected to find the details of the overall person organising the collections here, the local fundraising coordinator. There’s nothing on the website about him or her: hence the request.”
  14. His 31 October 2014 response contained a list of seven people the charity “since January 2014” had had “assistance” from. Each person was laughingly shown with the same non-personal email address, events@everyones.org.uk. This address has never appeared on the website. (Searching online for this address produces no hits either, which is suspicious too.) He disclosed first names only, and “Zoey” was included. On 4 November 2014, I wrote that I didn’t understand why his list was since January 2014, when I’d only asked for summer 2014 onwards. So I asked again for the information, this time explicitly asking for full names. Mr Rayton refused to disclose full names (10 November 2014).
  15. I then became more specific, asking him 12 November 2014 for the full name and email address of the fundraising coordinator responsible for the 12-13 June 2014 collection at Asda Longsight. In the same email I referred Mr Rayton to a publicly available photo of “Joe” at Asda Hindley last summer, collecting funds for Everyone’s Children’s Trust: http://greenroom.asda.com/store/hindley/photo/BJjb3my8. I then requested the full name and email address of the fundraising coordinator responsible for Joe’s collection last summer at Asda Hindley. I also wrote that Tony Stirk had confirmed to me that Joe is a photographer at GT Photo, Mr Stirk’s company. Joe is a resident of Bradford, I added, citing online evidence. Finally, I asserted that it was strange that someone living in Bradford travels to a town near Wigan, Greater Manchester to collect funds. Why didn’t a local person conduct the collection at Asda Hindley?
  16. On 20 November 2014, Mr Rayton stated that “Martin”, who lives in Manchester, was the fundraising coordinator responsible for the 12-13 June 2014 collection at Asda Longsight. “Martin” also organised Joe’s collection last summer at Asda Hindley. Joe was at that store “to see and learn the aspects of raising funds”, he added. He was accompanying “Jermaine”.
  17. In my 24 November 2014 response I disclosed my knowledge of Ms Telemacque’s letter from Bradford for the charity and asked Mr Rayton to explain it. I’d inferred that Ms Telemacque in Bradford was the fundraising coordinator, I said, because she had officially vouched for the amount raised at the 12-13 June 2014 collection at Asda Longsight. I also challenged his explanation for Joe being at Asda Hindley, revealing that I knew Joe’s full name, Joe Telemacque, and his role as a trustee of Buttercup Children’s Trust (registered charity number: 1128027), a Bradford-based children’s charity. As a charity trustee, he clearly doesn’t need “to see and learn the aspects of raising funds”. Even if he did need to do this, which I don’t accept, why is Mr Telemacque gaining such experience with Mr Rayton’s and Ms Telemacque’s charity, not his? The Buttercup Children’s Trust website (www.buttercupchildrenstrust.org.uk) has several photos of collections at stores, including Asda: see the “Gallery” page at 9 March 2015: https://web.archive.org/web/20150309172148/http://www.buttercupchildrenstrust.org.uk/gallery.php.
  18. Again, Tony Stirk is registered owner of the domain name, buttercupchildrenstrust.org.uk (source: WHOIS records). There is another important link between Everyone’s Children’s Trust and Buttercup Children’s Trust: both charities started life as companies set up by CRSA Ltd, chartered certified accountants, based in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex (company number: 05896733). The name CRSA seems to be an acronym for Charity Registration Services & Accounting, according to the company’s website: crsa.ltd.uk. Its website is strange and opaque, apparently almost wholly concerned with ACTX Ltd, a related company. CRSA Ltd is only explicitly referred to once – as “also at this address” on the “Contact Us” page. Everyone’s Children’s Trust was previously called CRSA Stock 7, while Buttercup Children’s Trust began as CRSA Stock 9. I shall return to CRSA Ltd in part four of this investigation.
  19. On 11 December 2014, Mr Rayton said that Ms Telemacque in her letter was not officially vouching for the amount raised at Asda Longsight that time, but only writing to the store in her role as “events coordinator” on the instruction of Mr Rayton. Her letter was to “to thank them and let them know how much was raised”. But that’s officially vouching for the amount raised at the collection! Finally, Mr Rayton confirmed my presumption that Zoey Telemacque and Joe Telemacque are related: Zoey is Joe’s daughter.
  20. Mr Rayton began his last message by saying that he was happy to continue answering questions. But he has declined to respond to my last two messages. On 18 December 2014, I asked him when the charity’s accounts for 31 October 2013 would be available. These were 109 days overdue, by the Charity Commission public register at 18 December 2014.
  21. Failure to file accounts and annual returns on time is a serious issue. It’s actually a criminal offence. Filing on time is an important way charities maintain transparency and remain accountable to the public. Not filing on time “amounts to mismanagement and/or misconduct in the administration of a charity and is often linked with poor governance issues”, says the Charity Commission. (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/regulator-urges-charities-with-january-deadline-to-file-on-time-and-online)
  22. Until 9 March 2015, the latest accounts were still shown as overdue on the public register of charities. But the trustees have just closed their charity, it seems. Everyone’s Children’s Trust has “ceased to exist”; and the Charity Commission removed it from the register of charities 9 March 2015.
  23. In my 18 December 2014 message I asked another unanswered question – about “Karen”, who Mr Rayton had said worked for the charity in Bradford at the same time as Ms Telemacque. I asked whether “Karen” in Bradford was the same “Karen” revealed as author of both formats of the application form by selecting “Properties” from the “File” drop-down menu. “Karen” is shown there to have only created both files 11 September 2014.
  24. I have recently discovered independent evidence that Joe Telemacque was/is more involved with Everyone’s Children’s Trust than Mr Rayton says. At 30 May 2014 the homepage did actually have some names on it, unlike later versions of the website: https://web.archive.org/web/20140530180449/http://everyones.org.uk/index.html. Mr Telemacque appears in the “list of all genuine agents of the charity” there – three months before he was at Asda Hindley apparently “to see and learn the aspects of raising funds” from friend “Jermaine”. Zoey Telemacque, however, isn’t listed – despite her being “events coordinator” 12 May 2014 – 24 September 2014, according to Mr Rayton. There is no “Karen” either.
  25. It is not only Asda stores in Greater Manchester allowing Everyone’s Children’s Trust to collect funds from customers. Here is the charity at Asda South Wootton, Kings Lynn September 2013: http://greenroom.asda.com/store/south-wootton/photo/q21vbjed; and at Asda Soham, Cambridgeshire September 2014: http://greenroom.asda.com/store/soham/photo/WOFbgga6. It is clear that Asda is exposing shoppers across England to collections in the name of Everyone’s Children’s Trust.

Why is Asda failing customers on charity collections? Part One

  1. This is part one of a four-part investigation into questionable charity collections at an Asda store in Manchester. Here I describe how the store manager and his staff including the customer service manager deliberately acted to avoid scrutiny of both the charity collections in their store and the public record of those collections.
  2. The Asda store in Longsight, Manchester has a notice board for the public that displays laminated copies of letters from charities saying how much recent in-store collections have raised. On the evening of 29 July 2014, I saw three letters that interested me. One letter related to the charity I examine in part two of this series, Everyone’s Children’s Trust (registered charity number: 1127302); while the other two letters concerned the charity in part three, Oldham Owls Disabled Sports Club (registered charity number: 504371).
  3. Visiting the store the next afternoon, I asked at the customer services desk if it was possible to have copies of the three letters. I was told that I’d have to speak to the “community colleague”, who’d next be in “Friday morning” (1 August 2014). Given her unavailability, I protested that surely someone else could photocopy the letters. I explained that I was happy to wait. A phone call was made and I was told that someone was coming.
  4. But “Nance” refused to help, saying that “we can’t copy display copies”. I was astonished. The information on the notice board is for the public. Nance is Nance Mullen, who is identified as the store events administrator on the notice board. She said I could speak to a manager about the issue.
  5. I shortly met “Jane” from “upstairs”, who informed me that “we only display information and can’t give you a copy unless Asda House [head office] says so.” Again, I was aghast. Jane is Jane Worsley, who is identified as the store customer service manager on the notice board. She added: “With respect, you could be anyone”. “Yes, that’s the point”, I replied.
  6. On the evening of 31 July 2014, I noticed that the three letters had disappeared, while the others remained. Although Ms Mullen hadn’t been prepared to photocopy them the day before, she did ask me to identify the three letters, which I happily did.
  7. I decided to write to the store manager, Ian Talbot, with my experience and to ask him to arrange for his staff to give me copies of the three letters. But anyone wanting to email an Asda store directly can’t: the company doesn’t provide email addresses for stores. It is only possible to email a central customer services via a form on the Asda website. On 18 August 2014, I therefore wrote to Mr Talbot that way.
  8. The same-day automated acknowledgement email said that I’d receive a response “within the next four working days”. Having heard nothing at 27 August 2014, I asked (email) when I’d receive a response from Mr Talbot to my 18 August 2014 email.
  9. I received his response 29 August 2014. Mr Talbot refused to grant my request: “The reason we do not distribute copies of the charity certificates and letters is they usually contain trademarked or copyrighted logos, names and images, and we are not at liberty to reproduce these for redistribution without consent from the charities/companies in question. You are welcome to contact the charity directly and request the information from them, however I still cannot guarantee that you will get direct copies provided.”
  10. On 1 September 2014, I emailed Mr Talbot again via central customer services to express my disappointment that he wouldn’t give shoppers copies of display letters on request. But if he wouldn’t do so for the reason stated, I asked to see the three display letters again. Photocopying wasn’t required that way, I wrote. I finished by requesting that we arrange via email a suitable time for me to see them again.
  11. Having heard nothing at 9 September 2014, I asked (email) for a response to my 1 September 2014 message. The next day, “Paige” at central customer services advised me (email) to call the store if I wanted to contact Mr Talbot directly.
  12. On 12 September 2014, I emailed Paige saying that I wanted to communicate with Mr Talbot in writing. I reminded her that on 29 August 2014, he’d replied to my 18 August 2014 email. I added that it was ridiculous that I couldn’t apparently email him directly at Asda Longsight. But if that’s the case, I wrote, how else do I email him than via central customer services?
  13. On 16 September 2014, Paige replied: “All email address [sic] at stores are for internal use only, this is why I have advised you to contact him via phone.” Later that day, I was in the store (15:30) and asked at the customer services desk to see Mr Talbot. I was told that he was unavailable as he wasn’t in the store. I also confirmed that there was no way apparently to email him directly at the store.
  14. I gave up with the store manager at this point.
  15. What makes it worse, the same notice board for the public makes it clear that Asda Longsight (or any store) is happy to email customers. As well as displaying laminated copies of letters from charities after recent in-store collections, the “Community Life” notice board invites customers at any one time to vote for one of three local “good causes” to receive funding from the Asda Foundation (registered charity number: 1124268). The notice board provides cards for shoppers to nominate a local cause they would like to see Asda support in this way. Once completed, the nomination cards are to be dropped off at the customer services desk. The nomination cards state: “To help us find out more about your nomination please provide your name, email or phone number.”
  16. The manager of Asda Longsight and his staff including the customer service manager deliberately acted to avoid scrutiny of both the charity collections in their store and the public record of those collections.

CORRECTION: Working link for archived web page announcing results of first Targeted Management Limited prize draw

  1. Sorry, but it seems that the archived web page I referred to in para 3 of my 26 February 2015 post isn’t available. At 3 March 2015 I have therefore resaved the “News” page from the Our Local Heroes Foundation website: http://web.archive.org/web/20150303135721/http://www.ourlocalheroes.org.uk/news/.
  2. Here is the “News” page on the charity’s website: http://www.ourlocalheroes.org.uk/news/. As you can see, at 3 March 2015 this still shows Steve Pearson’s announcement dated 19 February 2015 of the results of the first prize draw organised by Targeted Management Limited on behalf of the charity.