Fundraising for UK Knit Camp tutors

posted in: Knitting, Travel | 5

This morning I went to the coffee shop bearing locks of wool, with the hope of photographing them and writing a quick, non-UK Knit Camp post. I'll get to that, but it didn't happen today. As one of the people in the UK Knit Camp tutors' group said in a message that appeared just as I sat down to work, "I went out for the day and when I got back everything had gone mad." We're getting a bit used to that. . . .

Here's a scrap of wool to tide us over, and then I'm posting, by request, a longish update on the fundraising effort to assist the tutors from UK Knit Camp.

Boreray_4283_3

The wool is Boreray, from a breed that survives, even thrives, on a chunk of rock rising out of the North Atlantic. I chose Boreray as a good reminder of fortitude. There were a number of candidates for the fortitude role among the sheep breeds—all now rare, and in need of our attention, whether that's a little attention or a lot. Borerays can have exceptionally fine, or moderately hairy, wool, or a mix of kinds. The reference point marked on the background is 4 inches / 10 cm long.

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On to UK Knit Camp (again, from a new angle). In short:

  • The financial management for the fundraising is being handled by an accounting firm.
  • A participant in the UK Knit Camp is paying the accounting costs, so everything raised will go to the tutors.
  • Travel costs will be covered first, then lost income.
  • There is a dedicated PayPal account that can be reached via rostatum@cliffordtowers.com. In the subject line and/or the message box on the bottom of the PayPal page ("optional email to recipient") note Stirling Tutor Group Fund.
  • According to reports about how PayPal works, for "what type of payment is this?" the item to check is "gift," on the "personal" page. For accounts funded by a PayPal balance or a linked bank account, there is no fee for this type of transfer. For accounts funded by a credit card or debit card, there is a small fee.

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The following post was released today on Ravelry (the knitting/crochet social networking site) by user JaneKAL, who was one of the fantastic folks in my workshops at UK Knit Camp in Stirling, Scotland, this past August.* I have added a couple of clarifying comments (in square brackets) for people not familiar with Ravelry. Some of the information in the first part of JaneKAL's note duplicates that in the second portion, which clarifies the details to be included in any additional posts in other groups. In the interest of careful, if redundant, communication, I am including the entire post.

*The post can be found on Ravelry in the group called UK KNIT CAMP RAV DAY 2010 SOCIAL GROUP, and the thread is called KNIT CAMP TUTOR GROUP FUND. Membership in Ravelry requires sign-up, but is free.

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Here's what JaneKAL wrote:

I am one of the people who attended Knit Camp in August and had some amazing experiences despite the problems during the week and the distressing information that has emerged since. This was due to the stupendous efforts of several different groups of people, but one group I’d like to focus on here are the Tutors/Instructors. Their experiences, while each different, can be understood by reading Lucy Neatby’s blog post, and there are now a number of other posts by individual Tutors.

Many of us have posted our distress and anger that, after everything the Tutors endured, most of them have not received full, or any, payment for their work or even for their expenses. Those travelling some distance will have paid out significant amounts of their own money just to get to Knit Camp – money that should have been refunded and hasn’t been.

I’ve responded to the need, movingly expressed by a number of people, to do something practical, now, that will help the Tutors. While some Tutors are exploring legal avenues, it is now obvious that the Company(s) involved do not have sufficient assets to cover anywhere near the amount owed. An imperfect solution is to donate and fund raise to get, to the tutors, some money to go towards what they are owed. I offered this suggestion to the Tutors, and while, for anyone to receive funds in this way is difficult, and especially so for hard working professionals who have used their talents and worked for what they have, the Tutors’ Group is appreciative of the feelings behind it from so many people and have agreed to it.

Given the mismanagement of money that many have experienced around Knit Camp, I know that this fund has to be absolutely above-board and easily checked to be so. I have therefore arranged for an Accountancy Firm to open and run an account into which people can make donations, and from which funds can be distributed to the Tutors’ Group. The Accountancy firm is Clifford Towers Chartered Accountants and they are registered with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Full details here. The Accountancy costs have been donated, so every penny/cent donated will go straight into the Tutors’ Fund. Audited accounts of the fund will be made available – note that details of individual donors and recipients will remain private.

Respect & privacy for tutors and security & confidence for donors are paramount, which is another reason for using the Accountants.

I feel it important, that after everything they have endured, that the individual Tutors should retain their privacy. They have come together as a Tutors’ Group and it is they who will decide how any funds are distributed. No-one other than the Tutors and the Accountant will have information about how the funds are distributed.

The fund will be open for donations and proceeds of fund raising until the end of October 2010. There is a need for funds to be donated and distributed asap. Anyone with fund raising that may go on longer, please contact JaneKAL [the link here goes to a Ravelry contact].

Casey & Sarah [two of the Ravelry official folks] have kindly given permission for this fund to be discussed on Ravelry. Please respect this by asking moderators before posting in a group. Please don’t spam, but do feel free to otherwise contact friends and spread the word to individuals and groups that have an interest in affected tutors. The aim is to inform everyone who may be interested that there is a means for them to respond in a safe, meaningful and practical way if they wish.

If posting in another group/thread, please make sure all the information below, in bold, is in the post. After the events surrounding Knit Camp it is essential that all donors are fully aware of the terms and arrangements for the fund.

INFORMATION TO BE INCLUDED IN ANY POSTINGS IN OTHER GROUPS

Many people have expressed a wish to help with the situation regarding non-payment of teaching fees and travelling expenses to most of the Knit Camp Tutors (Instructors), so a fund account has now been set up. Respect & privacy for tutors and security & confidence for donors are paramount. Therefore the fund is being managed by Accountants, the cost of which has been donated, so every penny/cent donated will go straight into the Tutor Fund.

The Knit Camp tutors have got together as a group, and all money donated and raised will be paid to the group as a whole. They will decide distribution and this information will remain private. [NOTE from Deb: Travel expenses will be covered first, whether that's bus fare or transatlantic air travel. The next priority is lost income.]

The account is being managed by Clifford Towers Chartered Accountants, and audited accounts will be made available – note that details of individual donors and recipients will remain private. Clifford Towers is registered with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

The fund will be open for donations and proceeds of fund raising until the end of October 2010. There is a need for funds to be donated and distributed asap. Anyone with fund raising that may go on longer, please contact JaneKAL [on Ravelry].

If you wish to donate to the fund using PayPal – here is how:

Email address to use for PayPal donations: rostatum@cliffordtowers.com

Reference to use: Stirling Tutor Group Fund. Enter this in the subject and/or message box at the bottom of the PayPal page in the ‘optional email to recipient’ box. [According to reports, for "what type of payment is this?" the item to check is "gift," on the "personal" page. For accounts funded by a PayPal balance or linked bank account, there is no fee for this type of transfer. For accounts funded by a credit card or debit card, there is a small fee.]

For further information, or to pay by cheque (UK only) you can telephone the number below or email Ros at the address above.

Telephone number: 01788 577613  (hours 9.30am to 12 noon, UK time, Monday to Friday)

Casey & Sarah [Ravelry coordinators] have kindly given permission for this fund to be discussed on Ravelry. Please respect this by asking moderators before posting in a group. Please don’t spam, but do feel free to otherwise contact Rav friends and spread the word to individuals and groups that have an interest in the affected tutors. The aim is to inform everyone who may be interested that there is a means for them to respond in a safe, meaningful and practical way if they wish.

(The total amount of money owed to the Tutors is huge, but so that everyone is clear from the beginning, if we raise and donate an amount greater than that before the end of October, then there are obvious groups of people in unpaid KC employees and volunteers who didn’t receive expenses to consider but this will be fully and openly discussed in this thread.) [From Deb: And I'll do my best to pass along summaries, if we reach that point.]

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Back to my narrative:

The tutors' group has collected a list of people affected, posted by a tutor who was one of those paid in full and has been instrumental in coordinating the fundraising communications, assembling our databases, and other instrumental tasks—she's Woolhelmina on Ravelry.

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From Woolhelmina:

The following tutors are owed substantial amounts of money. Generally speaking, the US [and Canadian] tutors are owed more than those from Europe and UK, due to unpaid travel expenses.

  • Ann Kingstone
  • Annie Modesitt
  • Carol Feller
  • Deb Robson
  • Debbie Bamford
  • Debbie Tomkies
  • Di Gilpin
  • Donna Druchunas
  • Ewa Kuniczak
  • Jane Harrisson
  • Jared Flood
  • Jon Dunn
  • Kate Tetlow
  • Kerrie Allman
  • Liz Lovick
  • Lorilee Beltman
  • Lucy Neatby
  • Mary Jane Mucklestone
  • Nancy Bush
  • Nancy Marchant
  • Rebecca Bonser
  • Sasha Kagan
  • Woolly Wormhead

There are three more tutors who we believe to be owed money but who have not, as yet, joined the group, so their position is unknown.

Angela Muhlpfordt (Germany’s fastest knitter, who was invited specifically to take part in the ‘sheep to sweater’ challenge) is also unpaid.

Over the past couple of weeks I have contacted every tutor who was ever advertised as taking part in Knit Camp. There were almost 60 of them. I am now sure that we have found everyone who is owed for teaching they did, and/or expenses they incurred.

Only two tutors have been paid. I was one of them. I have no idea why I was paid. I received payment for teaching, and did not then claim travel expenses.

Because I have been paid it puts me in a neutral position with the Tutor Group and enables me to have an overview of the situation. I have been Jane’s contact ever since she came up with her fund-raising ideas. She is an extremely generous lady. She has employed the accountant and set the process in motion at her own, not insignificant, expense. The tutors are extremely grateful to her and her husband.

(A substantial number of other tutors suffered from loss of earnings because they were told, in the weeks immediately before Knit Camp, that they were not required. Several had turned down other work because they had verbal and/or written commitments with Knit Camp. These tutors are, obviously not included in ‘The Tutor Group’. Many of these have been very keen to offer moral support.)

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End of Woolhelmina's information, and back to my narrative:

Thanks again to everyone involved in spreading the word. The extent of the problems pertaining to this event need to be known in order to prevent future, similar situations.

I'm looking forward to getting back to posting on other topics! As the saying goes, This, too, shall pass.

On behalf of the tutors, I can say that even being remembered with a kind word buoys our spirits. Any contributions are above and beyond.

In the messages following that post, I loved a particular exchange. People are suggesting that folks go into their stashes (supplies of fiber for future and/or unknown projects) and sell something that they don't think they will be using and contribute the proceeds. One person offered a spare ball of Wollmeise (flash-heavy link here). An agreement to purchase was immediately posted by another person in the group ("…sight unseen…"), and they proceeded to figure out how to handle the logistics.

Of such interactions is joy made, one moment at a time, passed from hand to hand.

With gratitude for everyone who is joined in this positive conversation, in any way.

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5 Responses

  1. lynne s of oz

    Oh my – I’ve been out of the loop with my treatment for a while and yikes! This whole Knit Camp thing is not good. I’m sorry you and the other tutors have had to deal with all this rubbish and I hope the fundraising goes a long way towards paying you at least the travel costs. (It’s also a lesson for anyone thinking of bringing instructors a long way – get your ducks in a row!)

  2. Felix

    I think JaneKAL did a great job setting this up. Obviously it would be better if you all had just GOT PAID in the regular way and if the money we campers had spent on our tickets had ever reached you all, but given that this didn’t happen and there aren’t enough assets around to get everyone paid, this is really the next best thing.
    So sorry you have had to go through all this and the Boreray is a very apt fibre choice for this post.

  3. Deborah Robson

    Felix, I’m hoping that any fundraising is done with people’s surplus (yarns swapped around, change that’s fallen under the couch cushions and been forgotten, and so on). The participants DID pay for their events. Everything in this set of transactions is clean and appropriate . . . except for the one breakdown point.

    Lifecovers, I have chosen not to name the person specifically in public because I don’t think this was something she could control at the time. For that reason, it took me quite a while to be able to write this post. Where shaming would help some people moderate their future behavior, I think in this case it would be damaging to the healing and behavior-changing process. It’s relatively easy to discover who it is, if need be to avoid future entanglements of the type we just experienced.

    Lynne, I hope you are feeling better! Welcome back, and it was not a bad set of loops to have been out of {wry grin}. I’ll get you some more wool content here before long.

  4. Joanne

    I’ve been thinking of you and all the other tutors. This has been so rough and you have behaved in such a respectful and dignified way–truly professional in the midst of real difficulties.

    For many years, I’ve avoided travelling to these kinds of events as a participant because I lacked the funds to do so…it didn’t seem like something my budget would ever stretch to manage. I’ve also had several travelling teaching gigs that have only broken even or sadly cost me money in the long run…I feel a lot of empathy in this case. I am hopeful that this wonderful and above board effort will help with the financial issues and bring some healing to a very difficult time. Hugs.

  5. Pat Ashforth (Woolhelmina)

    In the interest of absolute clarity:

    Three tutors have been paid, not two as mentioned above. It was my error. The list of unpaid tutors is correct but I had not amended my text to reflect this. Deb merely copied what I wrote on Ravelry.

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