Regulator warns charity linked to disappearance of clothing collection banks

The Charity Commission has issued an official warning to a charity that was linked to the disappearance of clothing banks owned by other voluntary sector organisations. 

The regulator said in 2018 that it had serious concerns about the management of the charity Helping Our Future and its relationship with third parties, including commercial fundraising companies. 

Helping Our Future is based in Wolverhampton and protects and preserves the environment through recycling and waste management, according to the register of charities.

Complaints included that companies connected to the charity had removed other charities’ recycling banks and had failed to obtain the relevant permission from landowners before situating their own banks, the commission said. 

It said that when asked about these companies, trustees could not explain how they worked, how the amount due to the charity was calculated or what clothing had been collected.

Trustees also did not demonstrate any oversight or control over funds being raised in the charity’s name through its clothing recycling banks, the commission said. 

The regulator said it had issued an official warning to the trustees after concluding that the charity was acting outside of its objects and had entered into commercial agreements that were not in its best interest. 

It also said the trustees had failed to exercise adequate oversight over the operations of the charity and had persistently failed to cooperate with the regulator’s case. 

The commission also said contact with the charity’s trustees was difficult, it was unclear who was the chief executive and meetings were cancelled or postponed at short notice. 

The regulator said it “tried repeatedly to engage with the trustees and resolve its concerns, over several years”. 

It said: “However, as a result of successive failures by the trustees to address concerns and engage with the commission, the regulator has taken the significant step of exercising its power under section 75A of the Charities Act 2011 to issue an official warning to the trustees, directing them to take specific actions.”

The warning says the charity’ trustees must take actions including ensuring that the charity is furthering its objects as set out in its constitution, ensuring that any literature, website, or digital platform accurately reflects the objects of the charity, and ensuring they only enter into commercial agreements that are in the charity’s best interests. 

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