Christmas message from Northern Ireland’s Chief Charity Commissioner
As 2021 draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to convey my best wishes to all involved in Northern Ireland’s charity sector. From those who work, volunteer or provide support to the thousands of charities in Northern Ireland through to the service users and beneficiaries of the many forms of charitable assistance available, I wish you a happy and peaceful festive season.
It is hard to believe, as we anticipate Christmas in 2021, just how fast the year has gone by – a year which brought with it many uncertainties, many concerns and fears but also many achievements and successes across our sector.
As the vaccine roll-out progressed and restrictions eased, charities began to hold events and occasions in person again, in keeping with the social distancing and other requirements in place due to the pandemic. Family and friends could be united, and there was a clear optimism for the future following last year’s lockdown.
And, as always, charities remained at the heart of our communities. It was very encouraging to see the results from our public trust and confidence in charities research, which indicated that 84% of the public had a high to medium level of trust in charities. In fact, the mean score for overall trust and confidence in charities in Northern Ireland was 6.59, higher than the corresponding scores from research conducted on behalf of the charity regulators in England & Wales (5.5), Scotland (6.14) and Australia (6.2).
Of course, it has not always been an easy path. Many restrictions remained in place, particularly for the more vulnerable in our society, and charities, like other organisations, continued to find themselves in very challenging situations. I am aware of, and appreciate, the difficulties many within the sector continue to face and I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge your hard work and commitment.
Unfortunately, this December, we find ourselves yet again in a period of uncertainty with COVID-19 and the new variant Omicron continuing to dominate news stories around the world. A development which I am sure has brought with it an increase in anxiety and uncertainty. In light of that, I encourage everyone to follow the Executive’s guidelines around the pandemic, in the hope that together we can work towards a brighter future. And with that, I would like to wish you all a happy and safe Christmas and New Year.
Chief Charity Commissioner
Charity Commission for Northern Ireland