Domestic version of the Disasters Emergency Committee launched

The National Emergencies Trust, a charity itself, will provide a focal point from which to raise funds and distribute them fairly after national crises

The Grenfell disaster (Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images)
The Grenfell disaster (Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

A domestic version of the Disasters Emergency Committee, which will respond to disasters and emergencies in the UK, is being launched today by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The National Emergencies Trust will provide a single focus point from which to raise and distribute funding fairly and efficiently after national crises, and will operate as an independent charity.

The creation of the charity was sparked by the series of terrorist attacks in Manchester and London and the Grenfell Fire, all of which took place in 2017, when millions of pounds were raised by both regulated charities and concerned people using online donation platforms.

Many people, including survivors of terrorist attacks, argued that a domestic DEC was needed to ensure the money was spent effectively and to prevent fraud.

A board for the charity has been chosen by the Charity Commission, and includes Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross, Gerald Oppenheim, chief executive of the Fundraising Regulator and trustee of the London Emergencies Trust, Carol Mack, chief executive of the Association of Charitable Foundations, and Jehangir Malik, chief executive of Muslim Aid UK.

Victim Support, UK Community Foundations and the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund are also represented on the board.

Unlike the DEC, which comprises 14 overseas aid organisations that jointly respond to international disasters, the NET will not have a group of member charities, but has already set up partnerships with more than 40 different charities, the new organisation's operations director, Mhairi Sharp, told Third Sector.

She said the organisation would then partner with specialist and local charities in the event of a disaster to ensure that "local knowledge and local faces" were involved in distributing money to those affected.

Sharp said that, like the DEC, the NET would work closely with broadcasters to allow it to get the word out about its appeals. She said partnerships with ITV and Sky were confirmed and the charity was in discussions with the BBC, Netflix and Amazon Prime, and had strong relationships with national broadsheet newspapers.

The charity will also work with all the major online donation platforms to direct people who want to set up fundraising pages to channel the money they raised into the NET pot, she said.

Lord Dannatt, the chair of the charity and former head of the British Army, said in a statement: "When disaster strikes, there is a powerful human desire to help those affected. The British public has traditionally been enormously generous in response to such emergencies.

"But until now there has been no mechanism in place to coordinate the public response to domestic emergencies, both in terms of raising money and distributing it effectively." 

In a statement, the trust said it would also provide victims of disasters with a single point of contact to apply to for help, with a simple application process.

"Financial awards can be made to victims quickly and efficiently, avoiding the bureaucracy of multiple applications," it said. "It should also help use money more effectively and minimise fraud."

Sharp said the charity would also work with the government to try to ensure that victims’ entitlement to benefits would not be affected by any grants from the NET.

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