Saturday, February 12, 2005


Only discrimination is acceptable

"The Samaritans may have to close a large branch after lottery organisers ruled that it was not helping enough “disadvantaged” people. The charity, best known for its work to help the suicidal, said it had been told that an application for a £300,000 grant was rejected because it was not targeting asylum-seekers, ethnic minority communities, the young and the elderly. Instead, the Big Lottery Fund has given £360,000 to a group that helps prostitutes. Ann Widdecombe, the former Home Office Minister, last night labelled as “quite mad” the award to the UK Network of Sex Work Projects.

The decision has also baffled staff at the Sheffield branch of the Samaritans, which needs to renovate a former factory to house its 120 volunteers. Isobel Bincow, of Sheffield Samaritans, said that the branch received 22,000 calls a year from across Yorkshire and Humberside. “We are very disappointed to be turned down. We accept any callers of whatever creed or colour,” she said. “We have no barriers, yet the lottery organisers are saying we are not targeting specific groups. We are not discriminatory, but it seems we have been discriminated against. It feels like they’re saying our work isn’t worthwhile.” The Samaritans applied for the grant because its rented Sheffield premises have been sold for conversion into a restaurant and the charity will have to leave in six months. The branch used a £100,000 legacy to buy a former goldsmiths’ factory and initially applied for a £500,000 lottery grant to help to renovate the building. When that was rejected, the Samaritans applied for the lesser sum of £300,000.

Mrs Bincow, who has been appointed MBE for services to her local community, said: “I don’t think we were asking for too much. We haven’t enough money to move into the new building and it’s possible we may have to close temporarily unless we can raise enough cash at least to open one floor.” Mrs Bincow said that lottery organisers had told her that the Samaritans’ failure to target disadvantaged sections of society had counted against it.

However, Gerard Oppenheim, director of planning and performance at the Big Lottery Fund, blamed the grant failure on “sheer competition for funds. They were asking for £300,000. The plain fact is that the committee had a budget of £1.3 million, but faced 30 applications for funding totalling £5 million,” he said. Mr Oppenheim said that there may have been a “small misunderstanding” over why the application was turned down.

Ms Widdecombe was scathing of the three-year grant to the UK Network of Sex Work Projects. The money will be spent to provide Britain’s 80,000 sex workers with advice on safety, welfare, sexual health services and legal rights. “I’m sure it’s not what people have in mind when they buy a lottery ticket,” Ms Widdcombe said. “If they (the advice group) are advising the workers to get out of the industry, then that’s one thing, but if they are advising them on how to stay in the industry then it’s quite mad.”

Several British charities have recently had National Lottery grant applications rejected because of their perceived failure to target the disadvantaged. Last month the Severn Area Rescue Association’s request for £5,000 to replace the 14-year-old Land Rover used to launch its lifeboats was turned down because it could not provide details of the social backgrounds of the people that it has rescued. The Preston-based Bowland and Pennine Mountain Rescue Team’s £200,000 application was rejected on the same ground.



Pity the shareholders

Hewlett-Packard Co. ousted Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina yesterday, leaving only seven female chief executive officers among the nation's Fortune 500 companies. The Palo Alto, Calif., computer giant accepted the resignation of Mrs. Fiorina, one of the most powerful women in business, after disagreements over the company's 2002 purchase of Compaq Computer that failed to produce the profits Hewlett-Packard sought. She was appointed head of the technology giant, the nation's 11th-largest corporation, in 1999....

Her salary and bonus totaled $3.5 million last year, and she was the first woman named CEO, chairman and president of a big computer company. Among Fortune 500 companies, only 13.6 percent of corporate board members are women, according to a survey by Catalyst Inc., a New York nonprofit research and advisory organization on women's business. "What we heard from women provided evidence there is still a glass ceiling in place," said Paulette Gerkovich, Catalyst's senior research director. "Just under one half of women told us they faced exclusion from informal networks, gender-based stereotypes and a lack of role models." ....

"The Compaq merger was a fiasco right from the start," analyst Jason Maxwell told Bloomberg News. His Los Angeles firm, TCW Group Inc., manages $100 billion and owns Hewlett-Packard shares. The company's shares rose $1.39, or 6.9 percent, to $21.53 on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday. The stock has fallen 55 percent since Mrs. Fiorina was named CEO.

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