Political victory for local charity

Malcolm Williams
Malcolm Williams

Garlieston maritime charity, the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society which supports retired and impoverished seafarers, is celebrating this week after its vigorous campaign to halt the proposed abolition of cheques.

The charity, along with other organisations, has been instrumental in a lobbying campaign objecting to the move, which it said would have had a very serious impact on donation income and those receiving its support in Garlieston.

However following a determined campaign by the Society’s Chief Executive Commodore Malcolm Williams, which has included numerous letters to the press and a meeting with Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, Andrew Tyrie MP, the Payments Council has announced that cheques will stay.

Commodore Williams commented: “We are delighted with the news that cheques will remain in circulation and relieved that we will be able to continue to provide the best support to our beneficiaries. Given that the charitable objective of the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society is the relief of poverty, this is not the time to be faced with a reduction of income. Around sixty per cent of all our donations and sales are by cheque.

“But the issue goes beyond a purely financial one. Cheques serve a greater purpose for our charity. We pay the majority of our beneficiaries by cheque and this allows face-to-face contact between them and volunteers who are able to identify any additional needs or provide advice. It was also getting to be a worry to many people who have always used cheques, to people who are unable to get out of their homes, to those living remotely and some disabled people. On many levels it was an ill-conceived move by the banks that failed to take into account how people actually live.

“This is a great victory for charities and small businesses all over the country who rely heavily on cheques for payment and income.” But Malcolm Williams sounds a note of caution.

“I hope we will not see the banks getting rid of cheques by stealth by making it more difficult or expensive to get and use chequebooks”, he added.

The society, which celebrates its 172nd anniversary this year, received 729 new applications for assistance last year and helped in 2,644 cases of need, distributing grants totalling £1.5 million. Donations from the public are vital to its work.

Information about the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society can be found at www.shipwreckedmariners.org.uk