Negative coverage has "begun to mutilate the face of charity", says Sir Stephen Bubb

The chief executive of charity leaders' group Acevo will use his speech at its annual general meeting this evening to call for an end to "navel-gazing and finger-pointing"

Sir Stephen Bubb
Sir Stephen Bubb

Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of the charity leaders’ group Acevo, is set to warn that the recent treatment of the voluntary sector has "begun to mutilate the face of charity" and "it is time to shake hands" with the sector’s critics and move forward together.

Bubb will say in his speech at Acevo’s annual general meeting at the Houses of Parliament tonight that some individuals, institutions and some in the government have forgotten the good work charities do amid recent allegations of bad practice. He will call for a new accord between charities, government and wider society.

Acevo said in a statement that includes extracts of Bubb’s speech that there are currently no fewer than five national inquiries into, or proposed reforms of, charities. These mostly focus on what charities have done wrong, may have done wrong or why they are currently deemed inappropriate for the national purpose. The statement describes the negative attention as a "caricature of the true nature of charities".

Bubb will say in his speech: "In a sector as broad and populous as that of charities, failure, oversight, misbehaviour and arguments are all bound to occur. These features obtain within every family unit in the country but should we then condemn and revile the family unit? Of course not, indeed anyone who suggested that would themselves deservedly be reviled. Why then have we begun to mutilate the face of charity?"

He will point to the newly formed relationship between Acevo and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations after the two bodies agreed this month to work together to promote the positive impact of charities, as an example of the type of partnerships he wants to see. He will say that sector collaboration will be further assisted by the creation of a Charities Excellence Hub, a three-year programme involving Acevo that will help charities to improve their leadership, management and governance.

Bubb is expected to say that the principle of accord should be embraced by all those associated with charities, including the government, regulators, and newspapers: "Too many people need help now and too many issues need urgent attention. A climate of relentless criticism and cynicism lets these people and issues down in the unkindest way. Yes, there will have disagreements and yes, charities will still tell truth to power. But there has been enough navel-gazing and finger-pointing. It is time to shake hands and move forward together."

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