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FRANCES TRAYNOR: I'm ill, I'm sick and I'm tired of giving; No mercy for con charities.

Byline: FRANCES TRAYNOR

I'VE decided to cancel my monthly direct debit to a cancer charity, and if you are paying into charity then I suggest you stop right now. You could be funding some sleazy, corrupt scumbag's holiday place in the Maldives.

It isn't a decision I took lightly, because my own father was taken by cancer, but the time has come to stop giving. There are just too many rip-off merchants out there on the streets waiting to ambush you with a smile and a sob story.

The trouble is, we have no real way of knowing who is getting our money, so why hand it over?

It might be the sick and terminally ill are benefiting, but for all we know it could be one of those slimy, moneygrabbers we've been hearing about recently.

Enough is enough, I say, so next time someone comes up to me in the street thrusting a tin in my face I'm going to hold out a cupped hand and demand my money back.

The truth is now out there in the open. Some charities have been conning us for years.

What kind of creature is it who pretends to be helping the sick and the needy while only spending a tiny fraction on those they claim to assist?

Actually they aren't people, they're curs.

From now on when someone leaps out from a shop doorway or behind a bin on the pedestrian precinct flashing a tattered card of some kind bearing a name and charity number I'm going to whip out a card of my own.

And in letters so big even a blind person could read them the message will say: ``I gave now get lost or you'll be in need of your charity's help.''

You see, I'm ill, too. I'm so sick and tired of giving.

You all know how difficult it is to walk down our city centre streets without your path being blocked by a tin rattler and, if you don't give, they hit you with one of those looks whichmakeyou feel like Fagan. It's like paying a toll every 100 yards, because our pavements are crawling with all sorts of weird specimens who expect you to give your time and money.

And, of course, every cause is the most deserving. Well, I've had it. I'm not being taken for an easy touch any longer, especially now that the sickening truth about some of these `charities' is leaking out.

If I want to help the less fortunate I'll find another way to do it I know a bloke who raises money for Yorkhill, so maybe I'll give to him but those reptiles who have been taking our money will get nothing more from me.

Moonbeams is only the latest charity to be exposed with five directors suspended amid allegations of financial mismanagement.

According to the Lord Advocate Colin Boyd this charity gave only pounds 70,000 of pounds 3m raised to help children with cancer.

So, as far as I'm concerned, this lot can stick their sweets where the sun doesn't shine.

All those others, such as Tony Freeman, who allegedly misdirected as much as pounds 8m while supposedly working for Breast Cancer Research and Betty Maxwell Carter, of suicide charity Facilitate, who lied about her brother having killed himself, should be called to account.

Thankfully, the Scottish Charities Office and Inland Revenue have started investigations, but not before time because there are 28,000 charities in this country which has the most generous and perhaps also the mostgullible public. Some 30 per cent of Scottish households make regular donations to charities and that makes us prime targets for evil traders, who have succumbed to greed and who know that, unlike England and Wales, there is practically no regulation on our side of the Border.

It is easy to set up a bogus charity in Scotland even though the Scottish Executive have been in possession of more than enough evidence to warrant action against some individuals.

Jean McFadden, a law lecturer who headed a probe into charities and found charity law to be in a `mess, ' believes the executive has been dragging its heels. Why? Could it be ourpoliticians don't want to get heavy handed and expose the frauds fearing all the bad publicity might stop the public from giving so much?

If that happens the government would have to come up with even more money for research and hospitals and that just wouldn't do at all.

Yet, if priorities were correct and if we really did believe in things such as health and education, then these basic services would actually be funded properly. We wouldn't have to rely on charities to help the sick or supply buses and holidays.

If politicians wanted to provide a health service which worked properly they could do it, just by diverting moneyfrom other areas. Instead of waging senseless wars, for example.

The trouble is that helping our own sick or needy doesn't claim headlines or win votes. No picture opportunities here. An MSP couldn't very well leap on to the bed of a sick kid, plonk a flag on a heart monitor and wave triumphantly. But then again...

So, because we in this country are known for our charity and decency we're at the mercy of the unscrupulous.

That's why I'll be giving no more until I can be convinced enough is being done to stamp on the slugs who slither among the tin rattlers.

Until then, the Government can do the decent thing and pay up.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 21, 2003
Words:926
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