Crowdfunder Restores Shepherd's Bush Charity's Lost Cash

Kate Copstick had £8,500 stolen from her by muggers

Kate Copstick. Picture: GoFundMe

After having £8,500 stolen from her in Shepherd’s Bush this Saturday (3 September), charity director and actor Kate Copstick launched an online appeal for donations to make up the loss.

She was carrying the funds for Mama Biashara, a charity that helps women in Kenya set up small business, which is based in the W12 shopping centre.

The 66-year-old hosted children’s TV shows in the eighties and now also works as a comedy critic for The Scotsman coving The Edinburgh Fringe.

She set up Mama Biashara in 2008 to work with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. The charity provides grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security, it offers training and employment in everything from phone repairs to manicures. It has built a children’s home, which it still supports and has created water-harvesting solutions for drought-devastated areas.

She was planning to travel to Kenya this week with funds to help a group of women fleeing female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage and extreme violence. Due to problems with her bank, she was forced to use cash to provide this support which is why she was carrying such a large amount when she was set upon by two men in balaclavas. They grabbed her, put her in a chokehold, and when she screamed out, kicked her in the back of the leg, causing her to fall to the ground. They ripped open her backpack, and leaving her phone and purse on the floor, took only the envelope of cash and ran.

Ms Copstick said, “I was walking home, it wasn’t very late and the street I live on is very well lit, I heard running behind me and turned to see the kind of outfit you only normally see in TV dramas – someone dressed head-to-toe in black, with a full face balaclava. He grabbed for my bag and I began to scream and shout for help, he put me in a chokehold and suddenly a second man – dressed exactly the same – appeared. I thought they were going to kill me. They kicked me to the ground, took the money and ran. I live in a not-posh area of Shepherd’s Bush – there is crime, there are muggings, but it’s generally kids looking to steal a few quid – not full-grown men essentially dressed like ninjas. They didn’t take anything else, which sadly means I was very likely targeted, and that someone knew I would be carrying a significant amount of charity cash with me. I’m talking to the police about that now.”

Of the work the charity does, she says, “We are a very small charity, and whilst that comes with challenges of its own, it also means we are able to work on the ground, because we are known and trusted, we can access people in a way the bigger charities are not able to. The work we do saves lives, and saves people from a life of misery. We have women and girls in hiding, waiting to be rescued, if we can’t raise the money fast, they are in significant danger of being found and returned to the people who will hurt them.”

The funding plea saw a massive response with the £8,500 quickly covered and reaching £13,000 at the time of writing.

The Metropolitan Police said, “Police were called at approximately 8:30pm on Saturday, September 3 to reports of a woman robbed of a quantity of cash in Shepherds Bush, W12.

“Officers attended. The woman, aged in her 60s, was not seriously hurt during the incident.

"She stated two men approached her before forcing her to the ground and stealing cash from her rucksack.

“Enquiries into the circumstances continue including work to secure any viable CCTV evidence.

"Anyone with information that could assist police is asked to call 101”.

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September 6, 2022