Local Fianna Fáil Councillor, Aengus O’Rourke, has urged members of the public to be vigilant following a number of representations expressing concern pertaining to bogus ‘help the homeless’ collectors.
“Such ‘out of town help the homeless collectors’ are not from Athlone, they do not represent any of our established national or local charities and they are using the ‘Big Issue’ magazine as an excuse to stand at prominent locations around town and dupe locals into thinking that they are helping the homeless.
“The money that these people collect does not go to any cause or organisation. The ‘Big Issue’ licence people to sell their magazine. They buy it for €1.50 and sell it for €3 and that is all their licence entitles them to do. The are not allowed to have signs, buckets, tables or purport to represent a homeless charity. These rogues have been reported to Sean Kavanagh, Editor of The ‘Big Issue’ and he has cancelled the licences of those who have engage in begging and fooling people,” Cllr. O’Rourke remarked.
Before parting with cash for charity, the Councillor stressed that members of the public should know the authenticity of the cause to which they are donating.
“My advice is to ask yourself two important questions before you hand over cash to someone collecting. Do they represent a charity I know? Do they look professional? If the answer to both of these questions is ‘yes’, then they are most likely to be genuine,” the Councillor continued.
Cllr. O’Rourke stated that house callers seeking funds for charity should be received with just as much concern.
“Unless you know the person and the charity it might be best to pass on the offer to donate. I would always recommend sticking with the ‘old reliables’ and the local charities, namely SVdP, Pieta House, South Westmeath Hospice, Simon and the many sporting clubs and voluntary organisations around the town. They are all very much worth supporting as they do immense work within our local community,” Cllr. O’Rourke concluded.