On 23 October, the Royal British Legion will launch the annual National Poppy Appeal in Covent Garden. The period immediately following this leading up to Armistice Day on 11 November is known as 'Remembrancetide'. How appropriate, therefore, that at this time when we focus on our various collecting activities, we should be involved in the consultation process with the Home Office on future legislation for Public Collections and, specifically, house-to-house collections. The meeting, organised by the Institute on 13 October and involving representatives of charities holding Home Office Exemption Orders, was extremely valuable, producing, as it did, a whole series of questions on just how logical and workable the new proposals would be.
The Poppy Appeal is unusual, and probably unique, in that it fulfils two remits. The first is to act as the main income generator for the Royal British Legion's welfare activities, and the second is to facilitate the national collective act of Remembrance - namely the wearing of the poppy. Therefore, it is imperative that we make poppies as widely available as possible.
Our house-to-house collecting generates an income of over £3m out of a total just in excess of £21m. However, it is time-consuming and requires a large number of collectors, hence our recent initiative to recruit more volunteers.
It is also the case that a donation given at a front door almost invariably exceeds a donation given on the street. For this reason it is crucial that we retain our house-to-house collections for a set time and period every year. Any proposals which would limit this form of collection to the tighter constraints of Street Collection Licences would seriously undermine our ability to meet both our remits.
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