WCVA hosted an event to build connections between the National Emergencies Trust and key partners in Wales. Here we summarise the discussions and next steps.
This event was hosted in partnership with the National Emergencies Trust (the Trust) and Community Foundation Wales to develop understanding of the Trust among relevant partners and help ensure the Trust operates within the Welsh system, with the aim of enhancing resilience and recovery for large disasters.
Introducing the session, Richard Williams, CEO of Community Foundation Wales, noted the importance of having ways of working in place to deal with emergencies. He said ‘although we are not currently prepared to deal with emergencies that could strike, especially on local levels, I hope these conversations will be the first step towards becoming more ready to deal with emergency situations.’
WELSH GOVERNMENT PERSPECTIVE
Chris Buchan, Head of Communities and Third Sector Policy for the Welsh Government gave an overview of where we are now and ambitions for the future. The Third Sector team at Welsh Government focus their work in three areas: relationships, support, and volunteering. This is reflected in the resources and funding available through Third Sector Support Wales (TSSW) including the knowledge hub, funding Wales, Volunteering Wales, Helpforce Cymru and the Newid project. The Welsh Government has also recently endorsed the collaboratively produced National Principles for Public Engagement which aim to guide the way engagement is carried out to make sure it is good quality, open and consistent.
Looking back at the emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic and how we can learn from this response for future crises, Chris Buchan said ‘the pandemic highlighted the importance of both formal and informal volunteering, and we saw more of a shift towards informal volunteering. Now we need to consider how we capture the spirit of volunteering to help us with emergencies in the future.’
‘During the pandemic we worked with the sector and other funders on our response, and we are strengthening those relationships and connections further as we support refugees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine and as we tackle the cost of living crisis. We don’t want to bounce back to where we were before the pandemic, which is what the term resilience suggests, we want to create stronger, thriving, connected communities.’
WHO IS THE NATIONAL EMERGENCIES TRUST?
The National Emergencies Trust is an independent charity that offers people one trusted place to give, and work with other charities and groups to share out funds fast and fairly. Within hours of a national emergency, the Trust launches an appeal to raise funds for survivors and their loved ones.
The Trust was founded in 2017 after several national emergencies including the Manchester arena bombing and the Grenfell Tower fire. The Trust deals with national emergencies where the needs cannot be met locally. They work with charity partners for capacity and local insight, ensuring no one is left behind by making sure partners can support people with all protected characteristics. They also work with public sector bodies and through a collaborative approach, they support people affected by an emergency with mental health, physical injury, bereavement, and financial hardship.
In 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Trust went from being virtually unknown, to raising almost £100Million through an appeal to help those impacted the most.
Speaking of the appeal for donations, Mhairi Sharp, CEO for the Trust said ‘The appeal was a huge success, and we are particularly proud of the fact that costs of running the appear equated to only 2.8% of the funds raised. We made the decision not to pay for any advertising meaning that the vast majority of donations were used to directly support those in need. By working with 47 community foundation local networks, we were able to support 13 million people across the UK.’
Although the Trust only activates a fundraising appeal in response to large emergencies, they do provide support for smaller, local emergencies too. Vijay Jassal, Assistant Director of Policy & Strategic Partnerships at the Trust said, ‘we provide advice and expertise to local organisations and authorities to help coordinate efforts on the ground.’
CONNECTING WITH THE NATIONAL EMERGENCIES TRUST
Following on from the event, the National Emergencies Trust is looking to build relationships here in Wales and build a network of organisations willing and able to respond to an emergency. They are calling on organisations to get in touch to learn more about the Trust and are open to working with partners in Wales to develop a written protocol for responding to national and local emergencies.
To get in touch with National Emergencies Trust, please email Vijay Jassal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CALL TO ACTION
WCVA and the British Red Cross in Wales co-chair the Community Resilience Forum and attend the Wales Resilience Forum led by the First Minister. Both for a link with local, regional, and national resilience structures. The best way to develop an even more effective emergency response framework is to build friendships before we need them. Wales is a small, clever and connected country – let’s see how we can build on the networks that already exist, plan an exercise for 2023 and ensure that everyone who needs to know the who, where, what and how of responding during an emergency are connected. To get involved with this exercise and the Community Resilience Forum please get in touch by emailing email@example.com.