Sir Stuart Etherington will lead a project designed to strengthen NCVO’s links with Europe, after signing a joint declaration of unity with his counterparts in France and Germany this week.
Today is Etherington's last day as chief executive, with Karl Wilding set to take over on Monday. But until his official retirement date at the end of the year, he will remain with NCVO.
During this time he will work on a paper for the board which will make recommendations about ways to strengthen NCVO’s international work.
In a blog published on NCVO’s website today, Etherington said: “I know from my time serving on the European Economic and Social Committee, a group that brings together civil society across Europe to inform policy-making, that there is a great deal charities in different countries can do to learn from and support one another.
“Whatever happens politically, we should ensure we are doing what we can to strengthen these links.”
Joint declaration of unity
Yesterday Etherington and his counterparts from French and German bodies signed a joint declaration of unity.
Frank Heuberger of Bundesnetzwerk Bürgerschaftliches Engagement and Jean-Marc Roirant of la Ligue de l'enseignement joined Etherington during a visit to Étaples in Northwest France to visit the grave of Edward Birchall, whose £1,000 legacy established NCVO.
In the declaration, the three leaders said: “We wish to make clear our unity of purpose and our commitment to work together towards common aims.
“The support and empowerment of people who need our help, the fight against disease, the protection of our natural environments, the preservation of the best of our heritage – these are the causes that unite us, and they are bigger than borders.”
They added: “It is in the spirit of unity and cooperation that we sign and issue this declaration today. Now is no time to break the links that bind us across borders. Now is the time to strengthen those links.
“We will, regardless of the politics within Europe, endeavour to continue to deepen our ties with one another, and work together to help charities across Europe create better, healthier, happier societies.”