Why Prospect supports the Trussell Trust and War Child

Sue Ferns · 24 June 2020

Last September Prospect launched partnerships with two new charities: the Trussell Trust and War Child. This was a key milestone in a long and careful process that began with a motion to our national conference in 2018.

Conference delegates were clear that they wanted to contribute to the relief of poverty and to maintain an international dimension to activity in this sphere. A working group of National Executive Committee (NEC) members comprising Andy Mooney, Christine Danniell and Philip O’Rawe stepped forward to investigate and assess the options. The task was to identify charities with strong track records of delivery, genuinely prepared to work in partnership with us and committed to building long-term capacity as well as providing immediate support.

In the end the NEC’s decision took account of the growing impact of poverty in the UK as well as international need. In the post-Covid world this appears remarkably prescient. 

As the impact of coronavirus continues to unfold food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network are reporting their busiest time ever, with an 89% increase in emergency food parcels given to people across the UK in April 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. The figures include a 107% increase in parcels going to children. And all this has demanded a swift transformation from a system reliant on paper-based referral and face-to-face collection to online referral and remote delivery.

War zones are already one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a child. But, as media reporting has shown, coronavirus has made life a whole lot harder. Under lockdown, poor families are struggling to feed their children without being able to go out and look for work. 

Those living in crowded refugee camps don’t have the access they need to soap or handwashing facilities to stay clean. Many parents and grandparents who are unable to go to hospital will die from the virus, leaving children without anyone to turn to.

For now the impact of the health crisis is all consuming, but it isn’t the reason these charities were set up and when it has eventually subsided their work will still be needed. These short videos from War Child and a Prospect member volunteer for Trussell Trust explain why more eloquently than I can.

You might reasonably take the view that none of this is core union business, and that’s fine. However I would say, and that conference debate back in 2018 confirms, it does speak to our core values and to the union’s commitment to promoting equality of opportunity. Whatever your perspective on geo-politics, nobody wants to see lives ruined or people go hungry. Yet it is all too evident that children in the UK and internationally are suffering needlessly. Prospect can’t solve this but we can make a practical difference, at least for some of those affected. 

Despite the constraints imposed on all of our working lives as a result of coronavirus, Prospect members have already generously donated over £9,000 to the Trussell Trust this year through our Member Recruit Member (MRM) scheme. Last year we were able to make a similarly substantial donation War Child. 

I hope that as we emerge from lockdown that there will be further opportunities to get involved, individually or collectively, and to enjoy doing so. Music, sport and baking are among the range of fundraising activities on offer but, like our video star Andy McDade, you may be more interested in helping out at a food bank or organising an event in your workplace. As soon as we’re able to, we will keep you updated.