Case 1: a Shelter for asylum seekers relieved financial hardship
An organisation applied to us for charitable status: it intended to provide a night shelter for asylum seekers who would otherwise have to sleep rough.
The organisation explained to us that it would only provide services to relieve the specific basic needs of migrants and asylum seekers who, due to their particular immigration status, had no access to benefits or other homeless services. There was a particular need for these services in the area where the organisation intended to operate.
We were satisfied that the charity would provide public benefit in relieving the needs of this particular group of people (among other purposes). The application to become a charity was successful.
Case 2: an organisation failed to show how its planned activities would help a specific group
We received an application from an organisation that wanted to operate a restaurant staffed by volunteers as a way of helping with the volunteers’ feelings of isolation and loneliness.
The organisation suggested that working in the restaurant would combat the effects of loneliness and that this was therefore relieving the needs of a group of people who were in need because they were lonely, divorced, widowed or single, or even married, late-middle-aged people.
The assistance given under this purpose must be clearly linked to relieving the needs associated with this disadvantage. We accept that the beneficiary group may well include some people who would be regarded as disadvantaged as a result of social isolation or, in some cases, ill-health; however, the method of recruiting volunteers did not satisfy us that only those who were genuinely in need could benefit. In addition, we were not satisfied that the needs of the volunteers would be relieved by the type of interaction offered by the applicant.
We refused the application to become a charity.
Case 3: an organisation addressed a disadvantage faced by a group with a shared protected characteristic
A specialist garden centre restricted its beneficiaries to those with a severe mental illness who were in need of a meaningful daytime activity in order to maintain/promote their recovery.
The organisation limited its beneficiaries to those who share one of the protected characteristics defined in the Equality Act - disability. However, the law does permit charities to discriminate in this way by limiting the group of people it helps, provided the ‘charities exception’ is met.
In this case, the charities exception was met because the organisation’s governing document restricted benefits to people with a shared protected characteristic. We were satisfied that the organisation’s aim was to tackle a particular disadvantage faced by people who share a protected characteristic, in this case, disability. The application to become a charity was successful.