Charities in riot areas have been ignored in subsequent debate, NCVO report says

Umbrella group urges government to make use of the sector's knowledge and avoid inflammatory language

Karl Wilding, head of policy and research at the NCVO and the report’s co-author
Karl Wilding, head of policy and research at the NCVO and the report’s co-author

Charities working in parts of the country affected by the riots in August have been largely ignored in the debate that has followed the disturbances, according to a report published yesterday by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

After the Riots is based on the views of more than 100 representatives of voluntary organisations who attended a summit organised by the NCVO on 14 September.

It says that although the government and others have set up inquiries, the views of charities are being overlooked.

"NCVO’s concern has been that those voluntary organisations working on the front line, in and with the communities affected, have been marginalised in the debate. We contend that they have knowledge and experience of the causes of the riots," the report says.

The report says the Community Foundation Network estimates that £400,000 was donated to community foundations in London, Manchester, Nottingham and Birmingham after the riots.

It also shows how voluntary organisations took part in the response. For instance, the Retail Trust spent £50,000 of its reserves helping shopkeepers, and the pro bono legal charity LawWorks opened a support line for victims of the disturbances.

The report urges the government not to use inflammatory language, such as "broken Britain" and "feral youths", in public debates; to address unemployment, particularly youth unemployment; and to introduce spending cuts "sensitively and strategically".

Karl Wilding, head of policy and research at the NCVO and the report’s co-author, told Third Sector the report aimed to "faithfully pull together what people have said".

Wilding said the NCVO would talk to the Riots Communities and Victims Panel, which was set up by the government, about its findings.

The NCVO is not planning to hold any further voluntary sector events to discuss the riots.

An Office for Civil Society spokesman said: "The government acknowledges the significant and central role charities and voluntary groups played in supporting communities affected by the riots, and the importance of their work in preventing a repeat of such events. We welcome this report and will consider its findings carefully, ensuring they are shared across government."

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