Dame Anne Begg, MP for Aberdeen South, is urging residents to give safely to charities this Christmas by remembering the ‘Safe Xmas’ acronym developed by the Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, and the Fundraising Standards Board, the self-regulatory body for UK fundraising.
Both regulators will also be issuing the advice on social media, which can be found by following #SafeXmas.
Christmas is a traditional time for giving and charities work hard to raise money during this time to fund their work throughout the year. The general public give generously to charity and in a survey of people’s giving habits last Christmas, 85% of people said they give directly to charity at Christmas, donating an average of around £40 to the good causes they care about.
Almost all collections are genuine, but some people will try to abuse the generosity of others for their own gain. With some charities and supporters having experienced fraud, it is vital that the public know that their donations are going to the right place. The Charity Commission and FRSB have come together to issue a few simple tips for giving with confidence this Christmas.
Dame Anne Begg, MP for Aberdeen South, calls on local residents to give safely this Christmas, saying:
“People here in Aberdeen South are incredibly generous in giving both time and money to good causes at Christmas. Many charities will be relying on these donations to fund vital services that continue throughout the year and nobody can afford for those donations to go astray.
“If you are asked to give money to charity and something doesn’t feel quite right or you just want to be completely sure, take a good look at the fundraising materials, follow the ‘Safe Xmas’ tips and, if in doubt, get in touch with the charity you want to support directly.”
- Search for a charity’s name, registration number and landline on fundraising materials
- Ask to see a collector’s ID badge and don’t be afraid to ask questions
Find the FRSB tick logo, showing that the charity’s fundraising is regulated
Ensure the collection device is sealed
- Extra information about charities can be found at gov.uk/charity-commission
Make sure clothing collection bags are clearly branded with a charity’s details
Always check email and web links are genuine before donating
Still unsure? Contact your favourite charity direct and donate
For more information on fundraising regulation, go to the FRSB website, to the Charity Commission’s guidance on GOV.UK or to the Commission’s newly published fundraising statement which signposts readers to the correct regulator for any issues they wish to raise.
Dame Anne visited her local Tesco to help with the National Food Collection. She joined staff from Tesco and Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE) to ask customers to pick up extra non-perishable food items during their shop and donate them on the way out. The campaign ran for five days with Tesco donating a further 30% of all donations. Food donated will stay in the local area to be distributed to local food banks.
Dame Anne Begg, MP for Aberdeen South, is helping to spread vital information and advice to older people in Aberdeen South this winter in partnership with Age Scotland, the national older people’s charity.
Dame Anne has been distributing copies of the charities ‘Hot Tips’ Calendar to sheltered housing residents. As part of the charity’s annual ‘Spread the Warmth’ campaign, the calendar provides information to help older people get prepared for winter. Each month focusses on a special theme or includes content from a partner charity, with more than 80,000 copies available.
Dame Anne said: “Age Scotland’s ‘Hot Tips’ calendar is an excellent resource for older people and I have been delivering copies to all the sheltered housing complexes in my constituency.
“However, if you don’t live in sheltered housing accommodation, you can pop into my office on Victoria Road to pick up your free copy.
“With winters becoming increasingly severe in Scotland, it’s important that people prepare for what can happen, and Age Scotland’s ‘Hot Tips’ contain everything you need to know.”
Greg McCracken, Age Scotland Policy Officer, said: “Every year, ‘Hot Tips’ includes suggestions on making your home comfortable, safe and warm, as well as the latest information on welfare benefits and hints on keeping fit and healthy. It’s vital that older people are enabled to continue living independently, but ‘Hot Tips’ is also about improving quality of life by looking at what people can do to get out and about or involved in volunteering.”
Copies of the calendar are free and are available at Dame Anne’s office on 39-41 Victoria Road, Torry, Aberdeen AB11 9LS. They can also be found in your local Age Scotland retail shop, where available, as well as from your local library while stocks last.
Guide Dogs organised for the Transport Minister, Baroness Kramer, to receive a card for her birthday with messages from her parliamentary colleagues in support of for audio visual (AV) announcements on buses. Dame Anne’s message to the Minister was:
“Best wishes for your birthday. I hope you have a lovely day.
On your birthday, I wanted to let you know that, having recently joined local Guide Dog users on a blindfolded bus journey, I have witnessed first-hand how disorienting bus travel can be for those with a visual impairment. However, public transport offers a vital lifeline for people with disabilities by allowing them to travel independently and it helps to tackle issues such as social isolation. I do, therefore, hope you will support Guide Dogs campaign and have audio-visual announcements installed on all new buses.”
Dame Anne Begg MP showed her support for a campaign led by the charity Guide Dogs to make travelling by bus easier for people with sight loss.
The MP for Aberdeen South went to a reception at the Houses of Parliament on 2 July in support of Guide Dogs’ campaign to make sure all new buses have audio visual (AV) next stop announcements, which are vital for blind and partially sighted bus travellers.
AV systems are only fitted to around one fifth of the bus fleet nationally, with the overwhelming majority of these buses operating in London.
James White, Guide Dog’s Campaigns Manager, said: “Buses are a lifeline for people who are blind or partially sighted, and we welcome the support of Anne Begg MP for people with sight loss to be able to travel safely and independently.”
I attended an event to mark the funds raised by the sale of a collection of poetry and prose. The work was written by Aberdeen writers and celebrates Guide Dogs for the Blind. It is titled Guiding Lights and so far has raised over £2,500 which will contribute towards the training of young Guide Dogs.
Having a guide dog can make a huge difference to a person’s life in giving them the confidence to get out and about as well as the companionship that the dog can offer. Guide Dogs receive no government funding and rely entirely on public support which is why fundraising efforts like this are so important.
As well as training and providing assistance dogs to people who are blind or partially sighted, Guide Dogs continuously campaign for the rights of people with a visual impairment. Locally we have a very active group of people who lobby, fundraise and support Guide Dogs and I am always delighted to have the opportunity to join them in highlighting ongoing campaigns and issues affecting those who are blind or partially sighted.
On Rare Disease Day, Dame Anne Begg, MP for Aberdeen South, welcomed NHS Grampian’s campaign to raise awareness amongst health professionals and the public of the impact a rare or orphan disease can have on an individual and their families.
Dame Anne said:
“As someone with a rare genetic condition I know how difficult it can be to get a proper diagnosis and medical treatment. It can also be hard for patients to get information about their disease or to meet others who have it.
“I, therefore, welcome NHS Grampian’s campaign to mark this important day and raise awareness.”
Friday 28th February is the seventh international Rare Disease Day and this week Dame Anne also attended an event organised by Rare Disease UK in Parliament. The theme for Rare Disease Day 2014 is ‘joining together for better care’ as experience shows that bringing together scattered knowledge and resources for people living with rare diseases is the most efficient and effective way to mobilise the care patients and families need and deserve.
Dame Anne Begg MP joined local Guide Dog users and activists Mary Rasmussen and Linda Slessor as well as Guide Dogs Community Engagement Officer Pamela Munro to take part in a blindfolded bus journey.
Dame Anne joined them on a bus journey in order to understand some of the issues people with sight loss face when travelling on buses. Recent Guide Dog’s survey, Road to Nowhere, revealed that 81% of people with visual impairment in the UK say they are unable to enjoy the freedom that others take for granted because they find travelling by bus so difficult. Examples of comments which were submitted by visually impaired people in Aberdeen are:
“I was left in the bus station in Aberdeen for almost 2 hours because no one would tell me when my bus was there, it took a member of the public to stay with me and took me to my bus when it came in.”
“I have many tales to tell including one of blatant discrimination on what was then the 307 operated by Stagecoach Bluebird in Aberdeen.”
Volunteer John Johnston and Evening Express journalist Adele Merson were blindfolded on the bus journey to experience the disorientation that people with visual impairment can feel when travelling by bus.
Dame Anne has been supportive of Guide Dog’s campaign for Audio Visual Announcements in the chamber of the House of Commons and she will continue to press the Governments in Westminster and Holyrood to encourage bus companies to introduce this technology.
Dame Anne was delighted to meet with Ellie Simmonds as part of Sainsbury’s Active Kids for All Inclusive PE Training programme, an initiative designed to improve the quality of PE provision for young disabled people in mainstream schools in the UK.
As part of their 2012 Paralympic Games legacy, Sainsbury’s developed Active Kids for All Inclusive PE training to give teachers the confidence and skills to provide high quality PE for all young people. Sainsbury’s will be investing £1 million over four years in Active Kids For All training courses that will ensure over 500,000 young disabled children will lead healthier and more active lifestyles.
Dame Anne said “I know what an important part many of my constituents have played in collecting Active Kids vouchers, which is helping young children understand cooking and healthy eating from a young age. With the ‘Active Kids for All’ teaching programme it’s great to see how well the scheme is developing and the important part it plays in today’s educational society. I hope schools, groups and clubs across Aberdeen have fun collecting over the next few months and I hope even more will join this great scheme”
Dame Anne Begg MP was delighted to support the British Heart Foundation and it’s annual campaign Ramp Up the Red day which aims to raise funds to fight coronary heart disease (CHD).
Every year, around 8,000 Scots die of CHD. The disease is caused when the heart’s blood vessels become narrowed or blocked and cannot supply enough blood to the heart.
Despite a steady downward trend in deaths from CHD in Scotland in the last ten years, there is no room for complacency and the British Heart Foundation also hope to raise awareness of how small changes to your lifestyle can help keep your heart healthy.