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Resident raises concern over clothing collection scheme

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: October 21, 2010

  • Wording from the Do Not Delay! Appeal collection bags that appeared on householders' doorsteps in Devoran. Donors are being urged to read the small print before giving to the charity.

  • The Do Not Delay! Appeal bag. £5,000 a month goes to help a breast cancer screening charity in Lithuania. The remainder goes to the collection company, Intersecond.

  • The Do Not Delay! Appeal small print. The text states £5,000 a month goes to help a breast cancer screening charity in Lithuania. It doesn't mention the remainder goes to the collection company.

  • Wording from the Do Not Delay! Appeal collection bags that appeared on householders' doorsteps in Devoran. Donors are being urged to read the small print before giving to the charity.

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HOUSEHOLDERS are being warned about charity clothing collections which involve a profit-making company as a 'middle man'.

When one pensioner researched the Do Not Delay! Appeal after the donation bag for women in Lithuania with breast cancer arrived at his Devoran home, he became concerned.

"It seemed like a normal charity collection bag," said the resident, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of recriminations.

"But we also had a bag from the British Heart Foundation so we could compare the two. The British Heart Foundation bag had a UK registered charity number. The other didn't have one. The people doing the collection for the Do Not Delay! charity worked for a company called Intersecond and we couldn't see how they were linked."

The scheme promised to give £5,000 to the Do Not Delay! Appeal and the 70-year-old said some of his neighbours did donate.

"Two young men in their late twenties or early thirtiess collected the bags," he said. "They were driving a white transit van with the words 'Do Not Delay! – For Yourself And Those Who Love You' written on it. I could see the bags piled up behind the driver. They had clearly collected a lot of stuff that day. It's quite worrying when people come importuning in this way, even more so if things don't seem quite right." Second-hand clothing can be worth between £700 and £900 a ton.

Legal

Cornwall Council Trading Standards officers said despite the fact not all the proceeds go to charity, Intersecond's collection scheme is legal because it spells out the amount it gives back on the bag and on leaflets that accompany the collections.

"The small print is vital to understanding what a charity or company's intentions are," said trading standards officer Sharon Foster.

"In this instance the scheme is not handing over all of its money. It is making a donation to the Do Not Delay! Appeal and £5,000 a month may sound like a good amount to be giving, but if their turnover is 100 times that, then it is a small share."

However, Intersecond said it offered a valuable service to charities like Do Not Delay!

"We cover all aspects of collecting second-hand clothes for charity organisations," said administrator Yevgeniya Haughey. "This includes designing and printing charity bags, distribution of bags and collections of clothing donated, storage, transportation and subsequent sales to convert unwanted items into finance.

"A contract is signed with a charity where all conditions are discussed. This allows the charity to receive a guaranteed income and to plan their activity accordingly."

The Charity Commission, which has also looked in to the Do Not Delay! appeal and Intersecond, said there was little it could do as the charity behind the campaign, Azzara, is based in Lithuania and "falls outside of the commission's jurisdiction".

"We have determined that Intersecond Ltd is a UK commercial company that does not claim to be a charity," said a commission spokesman.

Truro and Falmouth MP Sarah Newton has highlighted the need for local licensing authorities to have the power to pre-approve the messages printed on collection bags at Westminster.

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