Fareham Shopping Centre kicks group out after complaints

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FUNDRAISERS were asked to leave a shopping centre after concerns were raised about their charity status.

Our Brave Heroes, an organisation that supports injured veterans, had set up a stall in Fareham Shopping Centre earlier this month but was asked to leave four days later by management.

However the not-for-profit organisation, which is not a registered charity, says it was treated unfairly.

Trustee Gordon Ross said that Our Brave Heroes was in the process of applying for charitable status, which had been a ‘difficult process’ due to the Charity Commission’s strict rules.

He said Our Brave Heroes hired a professional fundraising company called First Promotions to raise money and boost awareness of the national work undertaken by the Blackpool-based group.

Mr Ross said First Promotions takes 80 per cent of the sale of wristbands and raffle tickets from the stall, which meant 20 per cent went directly to the organisation, which has no paid staff, so it could help veterans in need.

He said: ‘It is a lack of understanding.

‘We are just a small charity trying to get the recognition and trying to get the money in.’

Mr Ross, who has been involved with the year-old Our Brave Heroes since April, said without professional fundraising companies, the group would never be able to reach so many people or afford to outlay stall rental costs, pay staff and other expenses.

However, a spokesman from the shopping centre said management had received complaints from shoppers about the group’s behaviour.

He said: ‘There was a group that set up a stall for a short time and they were fundraising, however they did not check out fully with the relevant permissions.

‘Some concerns were raised by our own team to the charity about how they were going about raising money,’

Fareham Borough Council was also contacted about the group’s activity.

Executive member for public protection Trevor Cartwright said: ‘The council received a number of complaints regarding the way Our Brave Heroes were fundraising in the centre.

‘The organisation needed a street collection permit in order to collect money, which they didn’t have, so they were asked to leave.’

Mr Ross vowed to return to the town. ‘The support in Fareham was great,’ he said.

‘It’s a kick in the teeth when things like this happen, hopefully we will be back when we are properly registered.’