ShelterBox founder sets up another disaster relief charity

Shelter for Humanity is the brainchild of Tom Henderson, who was dismissed from the charity he founded for alleged gross misconduct

Tom Henderson
Tom Henderson

Tom Henderson, the founder of the charity ShelterBox who was dismissed from his job for gross misconduct last summer, has launched a new disaster relief charity.

The new charity, Shelter for Humanity, will help people around the world affected by disasters. It will provide emergency relief tents in the aftermath of a disaster and longer-term support in the shape of portable modular buildings. The idea is to support communities until permanent buildings such as hospitals and schools are rebuilt.

ShelterBox sends out large green boxes containing a tent and other essential supplies in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.

Henderson left his post as chief executive of ShelterBox in July 2012 after a row about an allegation that he tried to place an order worth £650,000 with a company connected to his son John. He was dismissed for gross misconduct, but is taking ShelterBox to an employment tribunal.

ShelterBox said that there was no connection between the two charities.

Shelter for Humanity will operate as an arm of the Jane Henderson Foundation, a charity set up in memory of Henderson's wife, who died in August 2012. The foundation was granted charitable status on 5 April, according to the Charity Commission register.

Henderson told Third Sector: "The new charity uses the concept of ‘shelter to settlement’. In the past I’ve gone to disaster areas, given out resources and left, but now we’ll be working with a range of partners, such as Electricians Without Borders, to help communities get back on their feet."

Henderson will hold the post of founder and president of Shelter for Humanity but won’t oversee its day-to-day running. He said the charity was looking to appoint a chief executive in the coming months.

The charity has been financed by Henderson with the support of volunteers, many of whom have previously worked or volunteered at ShelterBox.

Henderson said that the name Shelter for Humanity had not been picked to cause confusion or annoy his previous charity. "We took a lot of advice before choosing the name and we didn’t choose it for any other reason than that we are a shelter specialist and it describes what we do," he said.

Alison Wallace, chief executive of ShelterBox, said in a statement: "There is no connection between ShelterBox and Shelter for Humanity, other than that Tom Henderson is ShelterBox's founder and was its chief executive until July 2012.

"ShelterBox is a charity with a 13-year history of helping in more than 200 disasters in 90 different countries. Its goal is to help 50,000 displaced families every year."

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