Five charities – Save the Children, Children’s Trust, Unicef UK, Action for Children and learning disability organisation Hft – have been forced to suspend their contracts with a face-to-face agency following allegations that staff targeted elderly people with aggressive doorstep techniques.
The sector may have thought such claims were behind it, following last summer’s exposé in the Daily Mail, which triggered the introduction of new legislation, a new regulator and a new code of practice.
However, if the undercover probe by The Sun is anything to go by, charities are still far removed from the agencies they use. The report, supported by photographic evidence, claims fundraisers employed by Neet Feet were encouraged to approach properties that displayed “no-cold-calling stickers”, in contravention of the Code of Fundraising Practice.
Several of Neet Feet’s fundraisers have also served time in prison for crimes including robbery and domestic violence, according to the newspaper.
Others bragged of signing up elderly donors, including an old man who “looked brain dead”, a “disabled, old, vulnerable woman” and that poor and uneducated targets are easier to sign up “because they’ll believe anything that we say”.
The Sun reported that Neet Feet had suspended operations at its Bristol headquarters in the wake of the investigation.
The Fundraising Regulator, which launched last week, said it would launch an immediate investigation, while the Public Fundraising Association said it was in the process of suspending Neet Feet as a member.
A spokesman for the Fundraising Regulator said: “We are investigating this matter with the charities in question to establish the facts. We’ll be able to provide further comment after investigations.”
A spokesman for the PFRA said: “[These] behaviours and practices have no place in charity fundraising and are not representative of the incredible work ordinary and honest fundraisers do every day. As such, we have begun the process of suspending Neet Feet from membership of the PFRA.”
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