Hospice warns over door-to-door bogus collectors

One of the country’s best-known hospices issued a warning last night about bogus collectors using its name for door-to-door collections.

Marymount University Hospice in Cork said it has been made aware that individuals have been calling door-to-door in some parts of Cork City claiming to be collecting money for Marymount — one of Cork’s best-supported cancer support agencies.

Calls have come in from Ballincollig, Bishopstown, and the Wellington Rd area of the city.

One bogus collector told a householder he had to reach a certain fundraising target for October.

Hospice chief executive Kevin O’Dwyer said he wanted to stress to the public that these collections are not part of its current fundraising campaigns.

“Anyone involved in such activities purporting to act on our behalf should be treated with suspicion and reported to the gardaí,” he said.

He confirmed the hospice had given its approval for the sale of voucher booklets, which were being sold door-to-door in recent weeks.

But following a number of complaints from the public about the low percentage of donations the charity would ultimately receive, and about the “aggressive attitude” of some collectors, the hospice withdrew its approval for the scheme last Friday, and that fundraising project was abandoned.

It is believed bogus collectors may have seized on this opportunity to continue targeting people for cash.

St Patrick’s Marymount, which has provided care in Cork since 1870, transferred from its Wellington Rd base to a state-of-the-art €58m hospice and elderly care complex in Curraheen in Sept 2011.

It was officially opened by President Michael D Higgins last April.

The 44-bed hospice provides a comprehensive specialist palliative care programme, and the 63-bed hospital specialises in the care of older people, providing intermediate palliative care, continuing care, and respite care.

The Friends of St Patrick’s and Marymount, and the people of Cork raised €24m towards the building project. The HSE provided €14m, the Atlantic Philanthropies — the international philanthropic organisation established by Chuck Feeney — contributed a further €10m, with St Luke’s Home, Mahon, donating €1m towards the cost of the day care unit.

But the hospice needs to raise €2m every year to maintain its services.

“Marymount University Hospice relies on fundraising to provide its services, and is extremely grateful for the wonderful support it gets from the people of Cork,” Mr O’Dwyer said.

“The goodwill and confidence of the public is very important in that relationship, and the hospice is mindful of the damage that bogus collectors could do to its reputation.”

He urged people to be vigilant on its behalf but stressed that other charities are involved in legitimate door-to-door fundraising activities.

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