We have received the below from Thomas Craney, the viewer who kindly agreed to host the fundraiser for Mary and Mikey, our viewers who fled Britain recently to avoid being cornered into injection or separation.
When I first heard of Mary and Mikey's situation through the UK Column, I wanted to do something to help this unfortunate family.
The first thing I did was to call my building society, Nationwide (which turns out to be the same institution that Mary and Mikey bank with), and asked them whether it would be OK to use my account to raise funds for them. I was informed this would be OK. It was only then that I contacted the UK Column to inform them that my account was available to host the fundraiser.
By mid-May, viewers' generosity had exceeded the fundraising target that we had set to help Mary and Mikey move their possessions to the Continent, and it was time to arrange the first transfer of funds, to pay for the present storage of their possessions.
The first day I visited my Nationwide branch in Coatbridge was 25 May, when I saw a teller named Callum, who said the only withdrawal verification that I needed to provide to Nationwide was to obtain the address of the gentleman who was currently storing items for Mary and Mikey.
When I returned the next day, 26 May, however, I was met with a different teller: a more senior lady.
I informed her I wanted to pay someone monies, and she said she knew I had been present the previous day. I gave the lady — whose name I didn't catch, but she was sporting a badge declaring Proudly serving Nationwide since the 1990s or 1980s — that I expected to complete the process I had begun with her colleague the previous day. I furnished her with all the details I had given Callum the previous day, plus the address I had been lacking.
No, this would not do. There were now dozens of questions.
Do you know these people?
Who are they?
Do you know [and she mentioned the real name of the pseudonym 'Mary']?
Do you know [and the mentioned the name of the man storing the items for Mary and Mikey]?
All my answers could not satisfy her, despite my having sourced all the details they had initially requested. She informed me they had a duty of care over me and my funds and she had spoken to their Investigations Team.
She said it could be a scam and even invoked Covid: the pandemic had increased the numbers of scammers, you see. I was left feeling like a scammer or someone who associated with scammers.
The upshot of all this was that I spent almost half an hour in my building society branch jumping through newly-discovered last-minute hoops, only to be told that no funds can be withdrawn without an invoice for goods or services being shown first. UK Column viewers' donations are essentially frozen until invoices can provided for each "service" provided!
This woman wears a badge at work declaring how "proud" she is of a four-decade career in financial services. Would she have us all believe that she is unfamiliar with the concept of a fundraiser?
I was beside myself with rage. No-one inside Nationwide was left guessing what had been imposed: I could not access the charity funds I had raised in my own account.
Nationwide Coatbridge branch has the following correspondence address:
Nationwide Building Society
91, Main St
Nationwide also maintains an online feedback form to which polite, civilised comments can be sent.
Those contacting Nationwide about this matter should bear in mind that Mary and Mikey are pseudonyms used for the UK Column publicity of their case and on the JustGiving fundraiser linked above. The account holder who is being frustrated in this case is the holder of your donated funds, Thomas Craney.