Warning over ‘failures’ of military charities
Military charities set up in the aftermath of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could be failing to protect “vulnerable” veterans, the Charity Commission has warned. The watchdog said it was concerned that some of the charities were being set up by people “with good intentions” but that they were not being run properly. It said it had found a “lack of safeguarding policies and practices” and that some charities were not checking on their workers to make sure veterans were protected from exploitation.
MILITARY charities set up in the aftermath of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars could be failing to protect veterans, the Charity Commission has warned.
The watchdog said it was concerned that some of the charities set up to help former military personnel by people “with good intentions” were not being run properly.
In a report released today, the commission said its inquiries suggested that some charities did not consider users with mental health problems as a result of serving in the forces to be “vulnerable”.
It said it had found a “concerning lack of safeguarding policies and practices” and that some charities were failing to carry out DBS checks on their workers to make sure vulnerable veterans were protected from exploitation.
The inquiry – which was prompted by “reports in local and national media and on social media” about poor practice in military charities – suggested that “military charities appeared to be at greater risk of compliance and reputational issues, which could affect public trust”.
One example was the Excalibur Unit, a charity providing practical, emotional and financial support for service personnel past and present. It had employed an outside fundraiser and there had been complaints from the public about “aggressive” tactics, as well as concerns that much of the money that the fundraiser brought in was not going to the charity itself.
The commission found that 80 per cent of money raised through the sale of merchandise was retained by the fundraiser and it had “serious concerns” about the impact of the complaints on the charity’s reputation. It added that the trustees had recently decided to wind it up entirely.
The report said Standeasy Military Support, which helps veterans with mental issues, only implemented DBS checks for a volunteer after the commission’s intervention. It added that “most of the military charities we engaged with did not have adequate policies in place to deal with complaints”.
Michelle Russell, director of investigations, monitoring and enforcement at the commission, said: “Some veterans may be potentially vulnerable for a variety of reasons and charities set up to help them must make caring for them, and protecting them, a priority. The public would be rightly concerned if veterans were exposed to harm.”
General Sir John Mccoll, executive chairman of the Confederation of Service Charities, said: “We strongly support the scrutiny of safeguarding and fundraising practices. The confederation strives for the highest of standards amongst its membership.”