A CHARITY in York says it will lose out on thousands of pounds of much-needed donations after an online giving platform was shut down.
Last June, The Press reported on former University of York student Louis Lunts, who undertook an epic 2,000-mile bike ride to raise £2,000 or more by cycling from London to Istanbul for Survive, which offers support and information to women and men who have suffered child sexual abuse or rape or sexual assault as adults.
The history graduate got about three weeks into his five-week trek when CharityGiving.co.uk – the site he had chosen for donations – had its accounts frozen after £250,000 went missing, sparking an investigation by the Charity Commission.
Survive service co-ordinator Mandy Alderson said Louis had raised £2,400 by then, and although he asked for donors to use another website to pledge cash – eventually raising more than £500 – Survive has not seen any of his original total.
Ms Alderson, said: “It is quite a blow. We are really struggling for funding for the coming financial year so £2,400 presents a lot of cash to us. What we don’t want is this to put people off fundraising for us.”
CharityGiving is controlled by another charity, The Dove Trust, and the commission is investigating both the portal and The Dove Trust.
Louis, 23, who is now working in London, said: “Well over 90 per cent of contributions were from small-scale donors – students, friends and friends of friends who believed in the cause and gave what they could. Survive have received nothing. Survive is a charity that matters, but the importance and volume of their work is grossly mismatched with their funding.
“When you’ve seen how much good they’re capable of doing, it’s frustrating to see how much of their precious time needs to be spent keeping the doors open. A fundamental motivator of London to Istanbul was to go some small way in remedying this.”
A spokesman for the Charity Commission said there was approximately £500,000 available for an initial distribution to more than 1,800 charities and good causes owed money by the Dove Trust. There will be a High Court hearing on March 20 looking at how to decide how to distribute funds.
Michelle Russell, the commission’s head of investigations and enforcement, said the delay was frustrating for the commission and charities but said: “We have no choice but to seek the court’s decision as to which process must be followed.”
Survive is based in Priory Street and run by three part-time workers and eight volunteers. It offers a safe place for survivors of rape and sexual abuse, where they will be listened to in confidence and understood.
To donate in a safe, secure way, visit http://survive-northyorks.org.uk/donations/