Soldiers deserve more
When donors give to charities, they expect every last penny to go to well-run services. Therefore, the Charity Commission’s inquiry into several organisations set up to help soldiers makes for disturbing reading: money raised being retained by professional fundraisers, a lack of safeguards, complaints about aggressive fundraising tactics and, worst of all, soldiers potentially let down by bad practice. It’s important to stress that many organisations are doing superb work, motivated by the very best of intentions. But the sector clearly needs oversight, to retain public faith and make sure help goes where it is most needed.
This newspaper has campaigned long and hard to raise awareness of what soldiers go through on the battlefield and what they have to cope with when they return home. The number of veterans seeking help for both physical and mental ailments has increased dramatically in the past couple of years, a sad fact that nevertheless comes with a silver lining – it means more people are talking openly about their problems.
This week a new initiative was announced between the Royal family and the Ministry of Defence that will see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry expand their campaign against the stigma of mental illness into the Armed Forces. A lot of good is being done, and it’s in order to protect that good that full confidence in the charitable sector must be restored.
The British public understands that it owes its soldiers an enormous debt of thanks. In turn, donors obviously and justly expect those charities to do their best when they seek to help Britain’s finest men and women.