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Street collection team 'not acting for charity' on streets of Exeter

By This is Devon  |  Posted: April 02, 2011

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EXETER shoppers are being warned that a team of street cash collectors in the city are not operating on the behalf of a registered charity.

Complaints have been lodged with the city council over the "aggressive" attitude taken by collectors with buckets in High Street who work for Positive Causes.

The council says the collectors do not have the necessary permit to collect – which are given out to prevent a clash of charity collections in the city.

It is now writing to the firm to say there have been complaints that they have been operating as a charity and if they do not seek a permit they could face prosecution.

One woman who was approached by the collectors told the Echo: "I thought they were very pushy and demanded money "for the children". They waved buckets and seemed to seek out the elderly. I have collected for the Royal British Legion and I know what I am talking about. I have complained to the council and they say they know about it and are taking action."

Robert Norley, the council's head of environmental health services said: "Essentially we have had complaints that they are quite aggressive and appear to be charity collectors with T-shirts and buckets but they are not a charity and do not have a permit to collect."

Mr Norley said that those selling periodicals, such as the Big Issue, did not need to have a permit and it appeared that Positive Causes did publish a periodical but did not make it clear if they were selling it.

He said: "There is some concern that they are operating, to all intents and purposes, as a charity. We would be very interested to hear from anyone who has been approached by them and we would warn people that they are not a charity."

Dean Sawyer, Devon area manager for Bristol based Positive Causes, admitted it was not a charity. He said: "I think the posh description of what we are is social enterprise. I have looked into this and it is a grey area. That is why we have a periodical, like Big Issue, because as such, and for freedom of speech, we do not need a permit to sell a periodical as long as we do not have a stand." He said Positive Causes had been a limited company for 18 months and aimed to give work to what he described as the "virtually unemployable" the homeless and those recovering from drug abuse.

"I have had experience of homelessness myself so I know what these young people have been through. I always use local people so the collectors in Exeter will be from the city."

He said that half the money collected went to the collector while the other half went to Positive Causes to cover the cost of the periodical and general expenses.

He said he would speak to collectors about their alleged aggressive approach.

"The thing is, Exeter is quite an affluent town so there are quite a few people out collecting and it is quite competitive. I will certainly ask them to tone it down."

On its website Positive Causes says: "We distribute a Positive Causes magazine, where the proceeds go to setting up activities and events for kids (under the age of 18), in the hope to tear them away from drink, drugs and causing criminal damage."

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    Martin M, Exeter  |  April 13 2011, 7:33PM

    If it's such a laudible cause, why can't the organiser obtain charitable status & why the necessity to short-cut the effort made by every other legitimate money seeking organisation ? While the evident good work of this charity may not be questionable, the manner they employ to do business is questionable & seeks to aggrevate the public rather than to win over their sympathies.

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    Dani, Exeter  |  April 07 2011, 12:05PM

    No worries... Got asked to write something good so i did. Have always supported what Dean is trying to do, since i met him 2 years ago. That won't change anytime soon.

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    Chloe Adams, Bristol  |  April 06 2011, 1:36AM

    The people making negative comments on here should do a bit of research about the company first before making judgments. Whereas, i would like to thank Dani, Exeter for putting the point across of what Positive Causes actually stands for and the extent we go to to help the community.

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    Becky Smart, Bristol  |  April 05 2011, 9:49PM

    I agree with all the POSITIVE comments on here! I started working for PositiveCauses in January this year. Even already I think I have benefited from Dean & the team. It made me realise that not only myself has a 'background'. Its not good money, but there's always great laughter. It has shown me that I can 'get off my ass' and find a job and get motivated. PositiveCauses has helped me and others 'get back on our feet' and look for employment (which means, less young people unemployed), and PositiveCauses WILL go on to help other 'Troubled' young people! A lot of people stereotype these days.........

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    Dani, exeter  |  April 04 2011, 6:10PM

    Len & George, i ask you if you have read any of the comments underneith. Positive causes is not doing anything illegal and for you to say that we are con men or the police need to shut us down (which may i add, they can't) is very small minded. I also ask, in your lives, what have you done to try and help anyone???

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    Chloe Adams, Bristol  |  April 04 2011, 2:59PM

    I can understand why people think what they do, but Positive Causes has changed my life over the last few months. If it wasn't for what Dean and the Positive Causes team, i don't know where i would be right now. This time last year i was taking drugs and drinking was all i cared about. From this i was made homeless and ended up moving in with my partner at the time. We moved around from place to place and then finally got somewhere to live. By this time i had stopped taking drugs but my partner hadn't and he was becoming more and more violent towards me. I needed something to do with my day to give me some self satisfaction and keep me away from my violent partner.My friend suggested i worked for Positive Causes, by doing this i would be keeping myself safe and making abit of money. After spending time with Dean and the Positive Causes team, they helped me to realise that i needed to get out of the violent relationship and move out. They supported me the whole way through, and im now living a better life. Not only am i doing better for myself now but im helping others as well, which this time last year i never thought i would be doing. The Positive Causes team have helped me improve my self confidence so much that i feel i can use my negative experiences to maybe help others in the same situation. As i have been working for Positive Causes for 8 months i am very passionate about the company stands for so when i am training and working with other team members, i make sure that everything they say about the company is accurate and appropriate and doesn't portray the company to be something it is'nt. I think that people should actually listen to us and our stories, and not just judge us. I hope everyone takes this into consideration, thanks.

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    LEN DAVEY, EXETER  |  April 04 2011, 8:36AM

    Con-men dont give them a penny !

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    George, wonford  |  April 04 2011, 8:20AM

    the police should put a stop to this.

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    Dani, exeter  |  April 03 2011, 7:17PM

    also i would like to say to the lady who commented that worked for the brittish legion. if the person who had spoken to you pitched you properly you should know that positive causes helps young and vulnerable people back into employment. if you ''know what you're talking about'' then you should know that selling a periodical does not require a permit. Surely with such knowledge on these sorts of things, you would've enquired more about the cause.

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    Dani, exeter  |  April 03 2011, 7:08PM

    Exactly! I for one can vouch for Philm when he says all staff are trained appropriately and are all aware of what should and shouldnt be said!!

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