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.
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