A division of the British Red Cross which provides mobility equipment to people in Huntingdonshire near Essex is said to have mistakenly sent letters to around 1,800 people saying that it would be visiting homes to collect mobility aids issued out.
The Red Cross’s mobility hub in Harlow manages the loan of equipment like wheelchairs and walking aids for up to three months which can be renewed by users online or on the phone.
But people began receiving letters before their loan period was up saying that they had exceeded their time limit and would lose their equipment. The Red Cross admitted that the language used in the letters was “alarming”, according to reports.
Dorel Darton, a volunteer at the St Neots centre, told the Hunts Post that she had multiple people coming in to the centre who were upset, crying and cross about the letters.
“I work alone at the centre and the charity didn’t tell me what was in the letters, I had no idea at that time, all I could do was apologise. It wasn’t very nice.”
According to Mrs Darton, volunteers had a “constant” stream of upset customers to deal with following the mistake.
Meanwhile, Geoff Cheshire, British Red Cross head of mobility aids operations, said: “In order to be able to continue to help people at their time of need with wheelchairs and other aids, we need to ensure that these are returned when they are no longer needed.
“Letters were sent out from our Harlow mobility hub with the intention of contacting people who we had not been able to get through to on the phone. Unfortunately, an inconsistency on the database system meant that people who had already returned their mobility aids, also received a letter. We apologise for this error. Our teams are looking into this now, to find out how it occurred.
“Upon reflection, we understand that some of the wording in the letter may have been alarming, this was not our intention and we’re sorry that we did not get it right on this occasion. We will be looking into where we went wrong, to make sure it does not happen again.”
The Red Cross has since said it will apologise to its customer.