Voluntary sector reacts to Brexit vote

Leading figures express concern about the UK's decision to leave the EU

Leading members of the voluntary sector have turned to social media to raise concerns now the UK has voted to leave the European Union.

The Charity Finance Group has called on the government not to forget the sector and said that any changes "must not hamper our sector’s ability to serve our beneficiaries."

In a statement, its chief executive Caron Bradshaw said:

Leaving the European Union is a momentous decision and will have a significant impact on the future of our country. No matter what happens, charities will continue to serve our beneficiaries as best we can. We must also do what we can to rebuild cohesion between communities after what has been a bruising campaign. However, it is important that the government does not forget about our sector in the midst of all this change. Charities are major employers and contributors to our society, we must make sure that the voice of our sector is heard and our needs taken into account

Caron Bradshaw, CFG

The Charities Aid Foundation chief executive John Low said that while there would be short-term uncertainty, the UK's exit was "ikely to present opportunities which charities, as always, will be ready to take to bring people together and tackle some of society’s greatest challenges".

Those who successfully campaigned to leave the EU argued that this would allow Britain to play a greater role on the international stage. Britain’s culture of charitable giving and the important work of our international charities are hugely significant to how we are viewed by other nations. As Britain starts a new chapter in our approach to international relations, charities must be given the chance to play a leading role

John Low, CAF

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, has written a blog saying the voluntary sector is needed "more than ever" to rebuild trust in society following the Brexit vote.

"These have been troubled times, and they will continue to be so. Britain is facing political and economic unrest for months if not years to come. Your support and advocacy for the people and causes you work for will be essential in this climate" - Sir Stuart Etherington

The charity chief executives body Acevo is calling for an urgent summit with the Leave camp over how they will replace the estimated £200m a year of EU funding the voluntary sector will lose. 

Debra Allcock Tyler from the Directory of Social Change said the sector must stay united.

"Divided votes can divide nations," she told Third Sector. "As charities we must make sure that we don’t allow politics to divide us. We must focus on our beneficiaries. We must lead by example and demonstrate compassion and understanding to those who think differently to us. That is what makes us special."

Social Enterprise UK has expressed concern over a potential "knee-jerk reaction from the state, bank' and big business".

In a statement, the organisation's chief executive, Peter Holbrook (right), said: "We want to avoid social enterprises facing the pinch by a combination of a freeze on public sector contracts, banks using the decision as an excuse not to lend money, and for-private profit businesses seeking to keep their balance sheets looking good by squeezing their suppliers.

"There is no blueprint for Brexit. No country has ever left the EU, so we have no real idea just how bumpy a ride the economy is in for."

New Philanthropy Capital has warned of the 'drying-up' of public funding for the sector. Its chief executive Danny Corry said: "The Brexit vote means we are entering a period of uncertainty for charities. The government will now be tied up for months negotiating what happens next, sucking time and energy away from making sure charities are in the best position to make a social impact. With news that the prime minister is stepping aside his life chances agenda, in which charities have been promised a central role, will be one thing that loses out.

"If the UK hits economic trouble as a result of Brexit - as the ‘In’ side long argued - this will mean sources of public funding drying-up even further."

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