Eastbourne charity asked to pay ‘outrageous’ £650 for stand in shopping centre

A charity group in Eastbourne says it cannot have an information table like usual because the shopping centre asked for ‘an enormous amount’ of money.

Rosemary Fraser, a member of the Eastbourne Parkinson’s group, said during Parkinson’s Awareness Week (this year it’s April 11-15) the local group has an information table in The Beacon.

Rosemary said this has been the case for several years, and the group has never had to pay for having the table.

However, the group said it was told on April 5 that the table would cost £650 plus VAT.

Eastbourne Parkinson's group asked to pay £650 for stand in shopping centre (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-191104-100533008

Rosemary said, “The group now finds itself not in a position to hold any event during Parkinson’s Awareness Week. To pay £650 plus VAT would detract detrimentally from the amount raised.

“Surely the ability to pay a fee should not determine whether such an event can proceed. If this were to be the case, then only those large and higher profile charities, which have a lesser need of funds to maintain a presence and to help its target group, would be able to do so.”

She said this shows The Beacon is ‘lacking in public spirit’.

Rosemary said, “Everyone has suffered during the pandemic but how can they justify what looks like making a business transaction out of a charitable endeavour.”

Eastbourne Parkinson's group asked to pay £650 for stand in shopping centre

Veronika Lees, treasurer and acting chairperson of the Eastbourne group, was the one to be told from The Beacon’s agent – Space and People Co – that the stand would cost £650. She said she had to speak to four different people before being quoted this price.

Veronika said, “Not having fundraised for two years because of covid and the pandemic, Parkinson’s UK desperately need funds to continue their research into finding a cure for this terrible disease which so many of us, including myself, suffer with.”

She said group members felt it was ‘outrageous’.

Resident Ann Gilmour has Parkinson’s and was expecting to help on the stand next week.

She said, “I was so sorry and sad to hear that this year I will not be at The Beacon for Parkinson’s Awareness Week, as they have quoted an enormous amount for us to have a stall there as we collect for Parkinson’s UK.

“I myself have Parkinson’s, so I know how debilitating this disease can be and this information needs to be there for all to see. I would have been one of the volunteers who was manning our stall, and sadly this can no longer happen.”

A spokesperson from The Beacon said, “We offer charities and community groups free space in The Hut and also on the mall if the space is not being used by tenants or temporary occupiers. There may be a charge for a charity or a community group if it is being run by a professional organisation. We also need to monitor the number of charities in the centre at one time.

“On this occasion, the charity should have been given the option of coming into the centre free of charge. We’re sorry this happened and if they would like to get back in touch, we will arrange a suitable time for their volunteers to come into The Beacon and look forward to seeing them soon.”

To this news Veronika said, “I intend now to contact my list of volunteers to see if they are all still available for next week. If so I will contact The Beacon and see if we carry on as intended including fundraising.”

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