A few months ago, we looked at the role charities would play when Brexit becomes a reality. With Theresa May heading to Brussels to start the negotiations, many experts are urging charities to stand up for what they want out of a deal with the European Union.
Professor Alan Miller, former chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, recently said in an interview with the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), that charities have a unique role to play in the Brexit process. Their expertise will be especially important when thinking about human rights, due to the access they have to the most vulnerable groups of people who are likely to suffer the most consequences:
Charities need to stand up
In the lead up to Brexit talks, all sectors have been trying to influence processes to ensure they benefit from the deal that results. Whilst politicians, businesses and the media will have agendas of their own, charities have a duty of care to the communities they support.
In response to the question: ‘When thinking about how Brexit will affect the UK, which organisations or sectors do you think the government should be consulting with about getting the best deal for the UK?’ - Parliament topped the list at 58%, businesses came in second at 57%, charities came in 5th with only 28% of the public thinking they should be consulted on the Brexit deal.
Although businesses have a right to be consulted, ultimately their primary focus is to improve and protect their profitability, as is their duty to their stakeholders. Charities on the other hand support social issues, which will no doubt be affected by Brexit, and their expertise will need to be depended on.
Strengthening the charity voice
With the relationship between the public and charities at a fragile state, it is promising to see that in the same poll, 41% of young people (18-24) think charities should be consulted on Brexit. It is clear that charities are not going to be offered a seat at the table when it comes to Brexit, they need to fight for it.
Charities need to work hard to show the public that a balance of views needs to be represented at the top table for us to get the best, and fairest deal. To get this deal, the government is going to turn to the stakeholders which it feels are most influential amongst the public, and charities need to be right up there. Andrew O’Brien, Head of Policy at Charity Finance Group, has said these figures create an opportunity for charities:
"Brexit is going to be a long process. Arguably, it hasn’t even started yet. Charities shouldn’t panic about lacking traction. This is also only one poll carried out several months ago. But it is a useful warning sign that charities need to do more to make the case for why they should be listened to. Otherwise, we could end up stuck with a Brexit future that damages our ability to help our beneficiaries." Source: Civil Society