Sir Peter Wanless, the CEO of the NSPCC, addressed guests both in-person at Sophia Gardens and online at Cardiff Business Club’s latest live speaking event. Peter, who was knighted last year for services to children, young people and the charitable sector, spoke about his transition from civil service to his current role and the challenges the NSPCC has faced over the past two years.
The NSPCC has 1,800 employees, around 7,000 volunteers and 500,000 or so regular supporters. 90% of its £115m annual income comes from voluntary donations, which last year saw an underlying drop of £10m due to the pandemic and subsequent restrictions.
Peter said: “The pandemic brought about many challenges for children and the charity, but while we did see a drop in relation to our usual donations, we actually raised more than we had budgeted in short term funds to meet immediate challenges facing children, which goes to show the generosity of the Great British people. We also benefited from the furlough scheme which helped underpin services that could not function during the lockdowns.
“Going forward, we need to rebuild that lost funding which we know will be hard with rising inflation and households bills which will ultimately affect the public’s ability to give.
“But the urgent need is there. The pandemic had a huge impact on children, particularly the most vulnerable who we strive to support. Some have been locked away with abusers, while others may have been incredibly comfortable in a protective environment and now are having to readjust to the real world which isn’t like that. We need to help them deal with any traumas or mental health issues they’ve experienced, and move on. They don’t want to be defined as the ‘Covid generation’, and our responsibility as adults is to help them realise their ambition and flourish.
“Before the pandemic, we did a huge amount of listening and identified three distinct areas where the NSPCC can and must make a palpable difference towards our charitable purpose which is to prevent cruelty to children. First, keeping children safe should be everybody’s responsibility and we’re aiming to build a nation of safe guarders; the online world should be as safe as the real world and we need meaningful regulation of social media companies, and all children should be able to speak out and be heard, and this is where our school services and ChildLine come in.”
Childline was established in 1986 and offers confidential advice on the phone and online to any young person in the UK under 19 if they need to talk to someone. The NSPCC’s Speak out. Stay safe.’ service is normally delivered in over 90% of UK primary schools and introduces the fundamentals of what children should do if they have concerns, and how to talk to a trusted adult. The charity also campaigns to changes attitudes, behaviours and laws to better protect children from harm.
Peter is only the twelfth chief executive of the NSPCC since its inception in 1884. He previously worked in the civil service supporting – among others – John Major, Michael Portillo and David Blunkett. He went on to run the Big Lottery Fund before joining the NSPCC in 2013.