The radio advertisement featuring the voiceover of Pat Kenny referred to the following:
“This is Pat Kenny and I’m asking you to support the Peter McVerry Trust Christmas Appeal. Every day across Ireland more people are becoming homeless and the Peter McVerry Trust is working hard to provide a safe, warm space to help them rebuild their lives. So please, give what you can to help the Peter McVerry Trust and give the gift of a home this Christmas. To donate call 01 823 0776 or visit pmvtrust.ie Thank you.”
The complainant said that he considered the advertising to be misleading in inferring that the Perter McVerry Trust helped the homeless all over Ireland. He considered that the advertisers only helped the homeless in the Dublin Region and did not assist people situated elsewhere, for example he said the fund did not offer assistance to people living in Galway.
The advertisers said that they were a national homeless charity and while their headquarters were located in Dublin, they also had a physical presence in Dublin, Kildare, Limerick, Laois, Offaly and Cavan.
In 2015 the advertisers said that their charity worked with 8,000 participants across their services, including individuals originating from the vast majority of counties within Ireland and also individuals originating from other EU and Non-EU countries.
The advertisers said that it would be wrong to assume that the location of their service meant that only those living in that location would be able to avail of its facilities. For example they said that the Peter McVerry Trust’s Residential Community Detox, a specialist methadone detox facility for homeless people, was a national service that happened to be located in Dublin but accepted clients from across Ireland. In 2015 this single service worked with individuals from Donegal, Dublin. Wicklow, Kildare, Cork, Louth, Waterford, Offaly, Limerick and Meath.
The advertisers said that the Peter McVerry Trust also provided a specialist information and advice support service on a national basis. While this service was once again located in Dublin, it received requests for support and advice from people across Ireland who were at risk of homelessness or who had recently become homeless. They offered support to such individuals to ensure that they received all necessary information to access the appropriate services applicable to their needs. They said they also offered help and support to those who contacted them online seeking advice and support.
The advertisers said that another element of their work was centred on preventing homelessness, and some of their work centred around engaging with persons leaving prisons across Ireland in an effort to prevent them entering into homelessness. They said that they were members of the National Homelessness Consultative Committee, a Committee formed and managed by the Department of the Environment. They were also a member of FEANTSA – the European federation of national homeless organisations and its membership was subject to a review and approval by other Irish homeless charities. These charities were in agreement that the Peter McVerry Trust was indeed a national charity.
The Secretariat asked the advertisers to specify what they meant by the statement ‘working hard to provide a safe warm space’.
The advertisers said that while their services were designed to meet the needs of the homeless with whom they worked, the needs of the homeless at times extended beyond residential accommodation (homeless accommodation and/or housing services) into everyday services such as drop in centres and cafes. The nature of these services and the support offered to those visiting them, ensured that such services were designed to be safe and warm and offered respite to those living on the streets.
In conclusion the advertisers said that the use of the phrase “working hard to provide a safe warm space” encompassed what they did on a daily basis as an organisation and in 2015 alone as previously indicated they had worked with 8,000 people in need of their help across Ireland.
Complaint not Upheld.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee did not consider that the advertisement was claiming that the Peter McVerry Trust had a physical presence in all locations in Ireland. They did not consider the advertising to be misleading or that any breach of the Code was involved.
No further action was required in this case.