Disability group ‘must say how every cent of Santa Bear appeal is spent’

The Central Remedial Clinic must provide “forensic” details for how “every cent” of the Santa Bear appeal is spent if it wants to protect the vital fundraising campaign from the unrelated top-ups controversy.

The Special Needs Parents’ Association (SNPA) made the call after it emerged the high-profile appeal — which to date has not been linked to any questionable activities — is being shunned.

Since the widespread misuse of donated money by senior CRC officials emerged, the disability group’s Santa Bear appeal has seen its usually significant income falter.

Newsagent representatives said shops were sending back appeal boxes as the brand was now “toxic”, or were declining to sign up to the campaign.

As a result, vital services, such as occupational therapy sessions, sensory rooms, specialist equipment, and support groups for families are at risk of being left unfunded.

SNPA spokeswoman Lorraine Dempsey said the situation was causing growing concern among families dependent on frontline CRC services.

The campaigner said the only way for the CRC to protect the appeal was to provide “forensic” details for how it spends the money.

“The figures out so far have shown just over 98% of the Santa Bear appeal money goes into frontline services. But we have no breakdown of exactly what that means,” said Ms Dempsey.

“What I’m calling for the board to do, and to do it today, is provide a forensic breakdown of exactly where this appeal’s money goes.

“What has happened at the CRC is disgraceful, and it brings a whole stain on the service. But the frontline services really do rely on this funding.”

To date, charitable donations used to top up salaries have come entirely from the Friends and Supporters of the CRC group.

This money — which makes up the majority of private funding to the CRC — comes from fundraiser lotteries and pools games, not the Santa Appeal. However, despite the difference, Ms Demp-sey said the Santa Bear appeal has been swamped by the controversy.

Convenience Stores and Newsagents’ Association chief executive Vincent Jennings said that in the short and medium-term the CRC would have to do an awful lot to rebuild its brand.

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