Charity workers fined £300 after collecting money for earthquake victims

  • london
  • March 2, 2023
  • Comments Off on Charity workers fined £300 after collecting money for earthquake victims
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A charity fined £300 after collecting money for earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria feared they may have to use the funds they raised to pay up.

Volunteers for the Refugee Workers Cultural Association (RWCA) were out on Walthamstow High Street, in east London, on February 21 collecting money for those affected by the disaster. 

Two massive quakes at the beginning of February toppled entire apartment blocks, wrecked hospitals and left thousands of people homeless, with more than 50,000 confirmed dead. 

The fundraisers were pulled aside by officers from 3GS – an outsourced enforcement agency from Waltham Forest Council – who asked them to move over the road. 

RWCA centre co-ordinator Ibrahim Avcil, 43, said despite the volunteers showing their IDs, they were fined. 

The pair were each given a £150 on-the-spot penalty for ‘unlicensed street trading’.

A street collection licence can only be issued by the Metropolitan Police, and usually takes four weeks. 

But the group said due to the severity of the situation in Turkey and Syria, this was not a reasonable time scale. 

Mr Avcil claimed the volunteers were ‘lied to’ by 3GS officers who reportedly said they would need to see IDs to verify the charity workers before moving them elsewhere. 

The charity boss told MyLondon: ‘I told them, “You lied to us, you could have asked us to go to another place to collect.”

‘Then they guy got extremely rude and said, “You can complain to whoever you want to.” It’s extremely sad because they lied to get our details.’

While Waltham Forest Council has now cancelled the fines, the RWCA called the treatment from the council and 3GS ‘appalling’.

They added in a statement: ‘Apart from depicting the disassociation of the local authority, reps and parties with its constituents, it is a clear display of hawkish tactics utilised by subcontracting “enforcement services” providers to maximise issuance of fixed penalty notices.

‘Hundreds of charities in the UK, including the government assigned Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) an umbrella organisation for charities such as Oxfam and Save the Children have also urgently mobilised, exactly like ourselves to remedy the needs of the same peoples. They are promoted on national television, football stadiums and giant screens across the country.

‘All while smaller, grassroots organisations such as ourselves face new hurdles every day to the extent our collections and bank accounts are hassled, volunteers pushed about, and bucket collections appropriated by giant businesses who refer to themselves as “Fixed Penalty Enforcement contractors”.

‘We will do everything with our means to challenge the penalties and in the worst-case scenario, will hand several of our filled collection buckets to Waltham Forest Council and the parasitic contractors they have partnered with.’

Councillor Clyde Loakes, deputy leader of Waltham Forest Council, said: ‘We have been made aware that the contractors used for street enforcement issued a penalty notice to a group collecting for the victims of the recent earthquake that devastated Turkey and Syria when they were not able to produce a licence.’

He went on to confirm the fixed penalty notice has since been cancelled, and added: ‘We apologise to the group, and we know that residents will be keen to support those affected by the tragedy.’

Metro.co.uk has also contacted 3GS for comment. 

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