Report finds “concerning lack of safeguarding” among military charities

Written by Lauren Weymouth

A new report by the Charity Commission has highlighted a “concerning lack of safeguarding practices” and concerns about fundraising in newly registered veterans’ charities.

The report was part of an in-depth review of a sample of military charities that have been registered since 2007. It involved a service delivery to veterans and/or in public fundraising.

Among issues highlighted in the review, the Commission claimed there was a “concerning lack of safeguarding policies and practices in some of the charities reviewed”. In a number of other cases, it found charities needed to strengthen their existing safeguarding policies.

The Commission has said this resulted in part from “not recognising the veterans they help as being potentially vulnerable on account of their personal circumstances”.

The potential vulnerabilities of former service men and women with physical injuries were more likely to be considered than those with other conditions, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the Commission added.

In addition to a safeguarding gap, the report also revealed weaknesses in most charities’ oversight of fundraising, with some having no basic agreement in place with professional fundraisers, and some having no systems in place to ensure the charity receives all of the funds raised by professional fundraisers.

The Commission was prompted to conduct the review after it found – from case work, social media and media reporting – that some more recently registered military charities may be at a greater risk of compliance and reputational issues.

“The charities we examined had been set up with good intentions by people with genuine compassion for veterans. But it takes more than good intentions and a good idea to run a charity properly,” Charity Commission director of investigations Michelle Russell said.

“The trustees’ role is to govern a charity well. And one of their most basic duties is to take safeguarding seriously. Some veterans may be potentially vulnerable for a variety of reasons because of what they’ve seen and been through, and charities set up to help them must make caring for them, and protecting them, an absolute priority. The public would be rightly concerned if veterans were exposed to harm through a charity supposed to help them.”

As a result of the Commission’s findings, it is now working collaboratively through Cobseo, the Confederation of Service Charities, and writing to veterans’ charities registered since 2007, to remind them to be alert to the specific needs and vulnerabilities of some beneficiaries and have robust safeguarding and proper fundraising arrangements in place.

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