National Emergencies Trust to pay grant assessors following #CharitySoWhite criticism

The Charity So White campaign has welcomed a National Emergencies Trust (NET) u-turn over the payment of grant assessors with “lived experience in marginalised communities”.

The assessors had originally been advertised by the NET as a voluntary role, to spend at least five hours a week reviewing grant applications from an equalities perspective.

But following criticism that the role was not being valued the NET has since advertised for independent grant assessors as paying up to £250 a day.

NET had said the original voluntary role advertisement “was issued in error and without appropriate review and sign-off,” according to #CharitySoWhite.

The campaign group added: “We welcome the changes that NET has made to this role and believe it is an important step in our broader efforts as a sector to challenge racist and oppressive practices which undermine our ability to challenge injustice in our society.”

“While charities and foundations increasingly speak to the importance of lived experience, it is rarely ‘valued’ with either a seat at the decision making table or proper compensation. A grant assessor in the charity sector can earn on average £44,000 in London. Advertising for a voluntary role for those with lived experience is unacceptable.”

It added: “We'll continue to hold the charity sector to account, call for others to take the time to reflect on their own practices, ensure they are recognising & properly compensating lived expertise and taking steps to become a truly anti-racist organisation.”

Regarding the paid for grant assessor role National Emergencies Trust chief executive John Herriman said: “We’ve been incredibly fortunate during this crisis to have had the support of dozens of incredible volunteers working alongside a few key paid staff, which has meant we’ve been able to really move at speed to help those in need.

"One of our team members issued this particular ad for volunteer grant assessors without any knowledge or oversight from our management team. We were made aware of it when we saw the very understandable concerns on Twitter, we located and withdrew the advert, and we immediately apologised.

“Because the ad was issued without wider knowledge it didn’t reflect live conversations our management team was having about paid and unpaid roles. We’ve reached a point in this appeal where many brilliant volunteers are now returning to their jobs from furlough. That’s why as well as the grant assessor roles currently advertised, we’ve also introduced a number of other paid positions, including a head of allocations and a head of equality, civersity and inclusion.

“Notwithstanding that the advert was issued in error, it’s incredibly important to us that we take all challenges and concerns on board, especially about equality, because it is central to ensuring we understand and reflect the needs of the communities that we serve.”

£3.4m worth of BAME grants

Meanwhile, NET has linked up with Comic Relief to offer £3.4m worth of grants to 10 BAME-led organisations to hand out funding to small and micro charity projects in response to Covid-19. This includes £2.75 in emergency funding from the NET’s Coronavirus Appeal.

“Partnering with Comic Relief to support BAME-led charities means we can continue to get emergency funds to those that need them most, while building vital capacity where there’s been historic underinvestment,” added Herriman.

“Since our Coronavirus Appeal launched in mid-March, around 17% of funds distributed have gone to projects primarily benefitting BAME communities and around 12% have gone to BAME-led groups.

“It’s an encouraging start, but we know these communities have been the hardest hit by this pandemic and that more needs to be done. That’s why this partnership with Comic Relief is such an important step.”

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