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Portsmouth City Council and the HIVE Portsmouth join the Charity Commission, the Fundraising Regulator, Action Fraud and Trading Standards to encourage people to give to genuine registered charities as people in Portsmouth respond with generosity in the current crisis.

It comes as regulators receive reports of scammers targeting vulnerable people, for example by posing as fundraisers collecting money for charity, who are diverting vital funds away from genuine causes. 

Portsmouth City Council is urging people to help ensure their donations reach genuine charities responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Charities, including Portsmouth’s local charities, supported and facilitated by the HIVE Portsmouth, are already forming a core part of the nation’s response to the pandemic.

In the last two weeks in Portsmouth over 1400 welfare checks have been carried out, food has been delivered to more than 1000 people and over 600 applications for volunteers have been received. More than 1,600 calls have been taken on the community helpline and over 124 urgent prescriptions have been delivered.

Councillors have been showing their support for HIVE Portsmouth this week using the hashtag #supporthiveportsmouth on social media to further encourage the already great support from residents donating food, money via Portsmouth HIVE website or time to help vulnerable and isolated people in Portsmouth.

Cllr Steve Pitt, Cabinet Member for Culture and City Development & Deputy Leader at Portsmouth City Council said:

I have been heartened and encouraged by the generous community spirit people across Portsmouth have shown since this crisis started. I would like to thank all those who have been looking out for vulnerable neighbours and friends. I also want to encourage those who are able to donate, to support registered charities helping to relieve those most in need but to be vigilant against ‘charity’ scams. Together, we can look after those in Portsmouth who need our help, and ensure this terrible situation strengthens our community. 

There are over 70 local organisations and charities working with the HIVE and many more national charities that are dealing with the pandemic and continuing to do important work throughout the country to support vulnerable people and communities. By giving to a registered, regulated charity, people in Portsmouth can have assurance that their funds will be accounted for in line with charity law. The HIVE website offers a directory to search contact details for hundreds of groups and organisations supporting communities across Portsmouth.

Action Fraud and Trading Standards have received reports of fraudsters seeking to exploit the pandemic by targeting vulnerable people, for example posing as charity volunteers offering to help with shopping, offering fake virus testing, or claiming to be raising funds for charity.

There are simple ways of making sure you give safely to registered charities:

  • Check the charity’s name and registration number at uk/checkcharity. Most charities with an annual income of £5,000 or more must be registered.
  • Make sure the charity is genuine before giving any financial information – it’s ok to decide not to give on the spot. Be wary of unsolicited emails from charities you have never heard of and be careful when responding to emails or clicking on links within them.
  • Exercise the same caution as with any other internet transaction, for example, to donate online, visit the charity’s own website and always type the website address into the browser yourself.
  • Contact or find out more online about the charity that you’re seeking to donate to or work with to find out more about their spending. Ask a trusted friend, neighbour or relative if you are unable to research this or need a second opinion.
  • Ignore requests to donate through a money transfer company.
  • If in doubt about an approach, give to a charity that you have an existing relationship with.

Richard Lee, Regulatory Services Manager at Portsmouth city Council said:

As people stay indoors to prevent the spread of COVID-19, criminals are preying on people in vulnerable situations who are isolated and living alone. The criminals often claim to represent charities to help them appear legitimate before taking the victim’s money. There are genuine charities providing support, so consumers should be vigilant and ask for ID from anyone claiming to represent a charity.

There’s never been a more important time for neighbours to look out for each other – particularly as we self-isolate – which is why we’re encouraging communities to prevent scams in their local area by using the free Friends Against Scams resources. Our online courses will help you spot a potential scam, identify people at risk and help you protect local residents from falling victims to scams. We’re urging communities to protect each other from scams and encourage people to share the latest advice with families, friends and neighbours.