May 15

In Olive Cooke’s memory, help someone to stop the tide of begging letters and phone calls

OliveI was really upset and concerned to read about the tragic end of the life of 92-year-old Olive Cooke, who had been receiving around 180 letters a month from charities and was plagued by phone calls. Her body was found in Avon Gorge on May 6th.

While I understand that charities need to raise money, persistently chasing people who have previously donated is wrong.

I think it’s important that we help vulnerable people to make the right choices about the organisations they give money to – and not just to the ones that pester most.

Here’s how you can help:

1) Help them to opt-out of unaddressed mail:

Royal Mail says: “Royal Mail is still legally obliged to deliver all addressed mail, which includes mail that is addressed “To the Occupier” (or with any other generic recipient information), as well as mail that is personally addressed to you by name. It is not possible for Royal Mail to separate material you don’t want from those you do want. For example: advertising offers or leaflets from material from Central and Local Government and other public bodies.

“Opting out from Royal Mail Door to Door stops all unaddressed items from being delivered by us (although we do work with Government to get a message to every UK address in exceptional circumstances). Election material is not delivered by the Door to Door service and is therefore not affected by this opt out. Opting out means no one at the address will receive unaddressed mail items.

“Please be aware that Royal Mail delivers a minority of the total volume of unaddressed mail items in the United Kingdom. The opt out will not cover any other distributors, who will continue to deliver unaddressed mail items. Opting out of Royal Mail Door to Door deliveries will not necessarily reduce by a significant amount the number of items you will receive, as there are other carriers in the market place.”

If you wish to opt out of receiving Door to Door mail items send your name and address details to: Freepost RSTR-YCYS-TGLJ, Royal Mail Door to Door Opt Outs, Kingsmead House, Oxpens Road, OXFORD OX1 1AA or email your name and address to us at: optout@royalmail.com Royal Mail will send an opt-out form to your address which you will need to sign and return. Once you’ve returned this form, Royal Mail will stop delivering unaddressed items to your address within six weeks. The opt-out will last for a period of two years from the date that Royal Mail received the opt-out form. If you wish to continue your opt-out after the two-year period you can do so by completing a new opt-out form which can be obtained by contacting them by email at optout@royalmail.com or via telephone on 01865 796964 or at the address above.

2) Help them to register with the Mail Preference Service

The Mailing Preference Service (MPS) is a free service set up 20 years ago and funded by the direct mail industry to enable consumers to have their names and home addresses in the UK removed from lists used by the industry. It is actively supported by the Royal Mail and all directly involved trade associations and fully supported by The Information Commissioners Office. Registering is free and can be done online by clicking here.

3) Help them to register with the Telephone Preference Service

The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is also a free service and is the official central opt out register on which you can record your preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls. It is a legal requirement that all organisations (including charities, voluntary organisations and political parties) do not make such calls to numbers registered on the TPS unless they have your consent to do so. You can register here. The TPS will register mobile numbers but cannot stop rogue text messages. If you or a friend or relative received spam text messages you can report these to the Information Commissioners’s Office here.

4) Help them to go ex-directory

Going ex-directory will remove a number from printed and online directories. To do this you’ll need to contact your phone supplier. BT customers can click here, Virgin Media here and TalkTalk here.

 

May 11

The camera can lie (well sort of…)

I saw this photo on Facebook this morning. At first I thought: “That’s a bit daft and insensitive – they can’t preach austerity and then order loads of champagne (probably at taxpayers’ expense)”

Then I thought: “But surely no political party would be so rubbish as to do this, so soon after winning the election.” Whatever you think of the Conservatives, they do understand how badly such a picture would have played on social media.

So I spent a couple of minutes on my phone Googling “Downing Street Champagne” and up came this article from 2012…

The revelation that it wasn’t taken this weekend, made me even more suspicious….

The photo was credited to well-respected news agency AP (Associated Press) so I had a look on its website… after a few minutes I found it.ap

And there is was confirmed: it was an eleven year old picture taken while Gordon Brown was Chancellor of the Exchequer and Tony Blair was Prime Minister.

And as Michael pointed out in this tweet:

So it just goes to show, while cameras can’t exactly lie, the impression an image can, as can the timing of its use.