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Hospice urges supporters to avoid crowdfunding

East Cheshire Hospice has told its supporters it does not recommend crowdfunding as a source of fund-raising.

The comment came followed complaints after the presentation of a £1,400 cheque by local man Leo Deen, the proceeds of a fundraising trek from Congleton to Glasgow in November.

Pushing a wheelbarrow in which people could leave cash donations, Mr Deen trekked the 230 miles in five days. He had a support car and stayed overnight in towns and villages along the way.

The charity walk, in aid of the Macclesfield hospice, was in memory of his sister Lea Wright, his friend Joey Henshaw and a dog called Rollo, who had all died after suffering from cancer.

Mr Deen presented a cheque on Monday and while a photograph circulating on social media of the handover showed the amount was £1,400, the fundraising total on his JustGiving page stood at £2,064 – prompting people to ask where the extra money had gone.

The Chronicle was unable to contact Mr Deen, but he has said on social media that around £500 had to be taken off for fees, including JustGiving, and petrol.

JustGiving announced in March 2019 that donating to a cause or fundraising for a charity in the UK would be completely free of platform fees, but Mr Deen used a crowdfunding page for his walk.

The Chronicle has attempted to contact Mr Deen several times this week without success.
On Tuesday, the hospice issued a statement saying it was aware there had been “concern” about his fundraising activity and the amount of money subsequently donated to the charity.

Rachel Allcock, the hospice’s income generation director, said: “We would point out that Mr Deen’s fundraising was via a JustGiving crowdfunding page, which means that the money raised goes to the person who sets up the page. It is then their responsibility to distribute the funds.

“We do not recommend the use of crowdfunding pages and advise all our supporters to use a standard charity donation JustGiving page, which passes all funds raised directly to us.”

She added: “Unfortunately, Mr Deen had already set up his page before letting us know about his fundraising plans.”

But she said: “We are grateful to those who supported Mr Deen for the money that was donated to the hospice, which will go towards helping our patients and families.

“If anyone who supported Mr Deen is concerned that a fraud has been committed, they can contact actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040.”

Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, has confirmed to the Chronicle that it has received at least one inquiry about Mr Deen’s fundraising activities.

The reports taken by Action Fraud are sent to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, which is run by the City of London Police. Reports are analysed for possible lines of inquiry and immediate disruption opportunities. Neither Action Fraud nor the bureau have investigative powers.

A spokesperson for Cheshire Police said: “On Friday, 28th January officers received allegations of fraud in relation to a charity fundraising event. Enquiries in relation to the allegations are ongoing and no arrests have been made.”

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