Helen Stephenson, the Chief Executive of the Charity Commission takes a look back on Welsh Charities Week 2022
With the season of giving upon us, I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on Welsh Charities Week. The idea to mark the contribution Welsh charities make to society was borne out of the pandemic – a crisis unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before, but one that illustrated the strength, innovation and resilience of the sector. Now, more than ever, charities, trustees and other volunteers truly are the unsung heroes of our communities.
WELSH CHARITIES WEEK
During Welsh Charities Week, I was delighted to visit several Flintshire based charities. Hosted at Connah’s Quay Older People’s Association, and convened by Flintshire Local Voluntary Council, I was able to take part in a roundtable discussion with representatives from different organisations, who operate in the local area. The common thread which linked all the organisations I met was how they make a positive difference in their communities: from giving advice, providing activities for children with disabilities, to hosting lunch clubs. It was also an important opportunity to hear first-hand about the challenges that many charities are facing – the pressures presented by the rising cost of living, were undoubtedly chief among the concerns raised.
While we are limited in what we can do to ease the burden of the cost-of-living crisis, we can help trustees to navigate the uncertainty. We have recently produced dedicated guidance to help trustees run their organisations through challenging times, especially when they are facing difficult decisions. Our five minute guides (available in Welsh and English) have been written with busy people in mind, and will help trustees steer their charities through these difficult and ever-evolving times.
WELSH CHARITY AWARDS
Charities in Wales – just like those I met in Flintshire – tend to be small organisations that are a valuable part of their communities. This is why the Welsh Charity Awards and Welsh Charities Week are so important, they provide an opportunity to shine a light on, and celebrate, the work of great organisations across Wales.
The Charity Awards demonstrated the rich mix of causes supported by charitable activity and the innovation undertaken by the sector to meet new and different challenges. From Innovate Trust’s Insight app, which has made a huge difference to the lives of people with learning disabilities, to Cariad Pet Therapy, who use therapy dogs to improve people’s mental wellbeing. The awards highlight the great work carried out by charities in Wales – and is real evidence of the value of a thriving sector that meets the needs of beneficiaries all over the country.
My congratulations to all those recognised.
OUR WORK IN WALES
As well as my recent Flintshire trip, the Commission has been visiting charities up and down Wales throughout the autumn. We’ve also recently welcomed a new Wales Board member, Pippa Britton. I know Pippa’s appointment will help us to continue to strengthen our relationship with the sector in Wales.
As the regulator for Wales and England, we want to improve the way we operate here. We have a good strong foundation to build upon. Understanding of the Charity Commission in Wales, about who we are and what we do, is good. In fact, it’s marginally better than in England. But this hasn’t made us complacent, and we will always strive to do better.
The festive period for many is a break, but I know that the work of charities continues. Be it providing much needed food for households who are struggling, or supporting those who are critically ill, and their families, at home or in care. I hope the season allows for some time to reflect on successes as highlighted during Welsh Charities Week, and the impact that charities in Wales deliver to communities up and down the land.
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