Sector groups agree to coordinate responses to future domestic crises

At a round-table event hosted by the Charity Commission, 25 organisations agree to form a working group to discuss the issue and formulate a framework for cooperation

Manchester bombing (photograph: Shutterstock)
Manchester bombing (photograph: Shutterstock)

Charities, umbrella groups, fundraising platforms and regulators have agreed to develop a framework for coordinating responses to future domestic crises such as terrorist attacks or major disasters.

At a round-table event on Friday convened and hosted by the Charity Commission, the 25 organisations that attended agreed to form a working group to create a collective framework and principles for the charity sector to operate through when responding to future incidents, the regulator said.

Attendees at the event included representatives from the commission, the Fundraising Regulator and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.

Charities including the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the infrastructure umbrella group Navca, the British Red Cross, the City Bridge Trust, the homelessness charity Crisis and Muslim Aid were also in attendance, as were representatives from fundraising platforms including JustGiving and GoFundMe.

The meeting came against a background of terrorist attacks in Westminster, Manchester, London Bridge and Finsbury Park last year and the Grenfell Tower fire, when hundreds of fundraising appeals were set up by members of the public and charities played a key role in supporting victims.

But there were concerns about fraudulent fundraising pages and the time it took for donations to reach those who needed them.

Many of the charities involved in the response to these incidents, including Clement James, the Rugby Portabello and the London Emergencies Trust, which all provided support to victims of the Grenfell fire, had representatives at the meeting.

In June last year, Sarah Miller, former head of press and public affairs at the Charity Commission and now a communications consultant, wrote a Third Sector blog calling for the establishement of a domestic equivalent of the Disasters Emergency Committee, which brings together 13 international aid organisations in times of crisis overseas.

The commission responded to her article, tweeting "spot on... we agree" and saying it had begun talks with various organisations.

Third Sector understands the group is not expected to form a charity in its own right, which is the model the DEC uses, but instead will develop the framework and work closely with other charities, as well as national and local government where required, to provide a swift, efficient and impactful response to any future disasters.

David Holdsworth, deputy chief executive of the commission, said: "Charities by their very nature help people in times of need, and the tragic disasters that we’ve seen in the UK over the past year have highlighted the great work charities do to support victims and channel the public’s compassion and generosity."

He said the experience and expertise of charities, as well as their ties to local communities, often made them best placed to respond in such situations.

"Advances in technology, combined with the consistent sheer generosity of the British public, makes it an opportune time for charities to consider how they can work together to maximise their support for UK citizens in times of need," he said.

Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross, said: "The voluntary sector has a unique position, straddling the world of grass-roots community groups and national resilience planning. We must use that position to marry local insight with national planning and to put people’s needs at the centre of UK emergency response."

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