Brickbats and Bouquets

It’s a sad fact of life that where there is misfortune and vulnerability, there are despicable people willing to exploit it for financial gain. The pandemic lockdown restrictions may have kept most people from living their lives as normal, but for scammers it has been business as usual.

That’s why the Government has been encouraging us all to “Be Scam Aware” during this year’s annual Scams Awareness fortnight with particular attention being paid to raising awareness of COVID-19 related scams. 

From emails pretending to help people apply to government support schemes, to those knocking on constituent’s doors asking for money for fake charities, we need to work together to stop these scams. Research carried out by Citizens Advice has found that over a third of British adults (36%) have been the target of a scam since lockdown began. Sadly, it is often the most vulnerable who are targeted, for example half (50%) of those at an “increased risk of coronavirus” had been contacted by scammers.

The campaign continues to go from strength to strength, and the number of organisations taking part across the UK has doubled over the past 5 years to take a united stand against scams. Many local organisations, such as Citizens Advice and Trading Standards, are working together with local partners such as the police to protect the most vulnerable in our society who are seen as easy targets. These scam crimes need to be reported, so the perpetrators are brought to justice, and others are protected from falling victim in the future.  

There has, however, been some great news this week from the National Lottery Community Fund for one of our best known Brentwood charities, SNAP (Special Needs and Parents). Funding has been awarded to help to cover core costs and allow SNAP to meet increased demand due to COVID-19. They offer specialist parent talks on zoom on topics from toileting to returning to school. Activity sessions and groups are being live-streamed including music therapy, drama and yoga classes giving children and young people a chance to see their friends and family and carers an opportunity to catch up.

At a time when many of the families with whom SNAP works have had to shield or self-isolate, the charity’s online help has been in huge demand. At a time when, like all charities, SNAP is finding fundraising opportunities hard to come by, this Lottery funding is great news. And we all need some of that at the moment.