Military veterans charity fundraising in Norwich is ordered to stop

Support the Heroes said it supported military charities with donations, including the Royal British

Support the Heroes said it supported military charities with donations, including the Royal British Legion. Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire - Credit: PA

A military charity which was fundraising in Norwich last weekend is being investigated by the industry's regulator over concerns about the amount of money going to professional fundraisers.

A ticket for Support the Heroes "skill prize draw".

A ticket for Support the Heroes "skill prize draw". - Credit: Archant

Support the Heroes says it helps veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress and is not a fake charity.

But it has been put under investigation by the Charity Commission and ordered to suspend collecting money.

The watchdog said there were concerns over the activities of a professional fundraiser used by Support the Heroes and ordered that the charity's assets be frozen.

The regulator said it started an inquiry into Support the Heroes on November 10 to investigate concerns raised by the public.

A ticket for Support the Heroes "skill prize draw". The charity is being investigated by the Charity

A ticket for Support the Heroes "skill prize draw". The charity is being investigated by the Charity Commission. Photo: Submitted - Credit: Archant

The Lancashire-based charity was selling tickets for £2.50 for a prize draw on a stall in the Range at Longwater Retail Park last Saturday.

One shopper who bought a ticket at the Range got in touch with this newspaper and said he was concerned about what percentage of the ticket price went to support veterans.

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He said he gave the charity £3 for a ticket.

'Nothing else was said about the charity or anything about where the money or a percentage of the donation was going,' he said. 'I think this should be a visual requirement then people can make their own mind up.'

The Range on the Longwater Industrial EstatePhoto: James BassCopy: EN 100 MAGFor: EN 100 MAG© EN Pic

The Range on the Longwater Industrial EstatePhoto: James BassCopy: EN 100 MAGFor: EN 100 MAG© EN Pics 2004(01603) 772434 - Credit: Archant © 2004

The charity was also secret filmed by the BBC in Scotland. In the footage, the fundraisers said they worked for free.

But the BBC documentary claimed the charity pays a third of everything it collects to a company called Targeted Management Ltd.

Support the Heroes financial statements show that for the year ending in March 2016 it raised nearly £120,000 and donated two-thirds of that to charities.

Some of the charities that received donations included Combat Stress, Blind Veterans UK, Royal British Legion, British Limbless Ex-Service Men's Association and Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association.

A Charity Commission spokesman said: 'The decision to open the statutory inquiry follows on from the commission's recent preliminary investigation into the charity's activities.'

But the charity claimed false accusations had been made against them in an attempt to discredit its fundraising activities.

It stressed it was a 'real charity' and was 'registered and compliant with the Charity Commission and its guidelines'.

'It is not a 'fake charity'. It is not and never has been a 'fraud charity'.

'All contributions are accounted for, none are or ever have been misappropriated,' it said on its website.

It is the latest in a series of fundraising activities highlighted by this newspaper in Norwich.In September concerns were raised about the regulation of charity street collectors in Norwich after this newspaper found wristband sellers were operating without a licence.

And in December last year a group of four men were selling 'anti-bullying' wristbands at £2 a time to people in Gentleman's Walk and St Stephen's Street.

While the sellers were not claiming to be charity collectors, they had no licence to operate.

That same month a firm fundraising for army veterans in Castle Mall was asked to stop, amid concerns they were not making it clear enough that just 20pc of takings were going to charity.

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