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Tue, 23rd March, 2021

Fifty Years of Giving Local Charities a Voice, and Funds

Fifty Years of Giving Local Charities a Voice, and Funds

This year the Association of Jersey Charities celebrates a milestone anniversary - the AJC was formed 50 years ago on 23 March 1971.

The Jersey Evening Post of the next day carried the headline “Charities’ Co-Ordinating Body Formed”. The concept stemmed from a suggestion made by Lord Louis Mountbatten when, as guest of honour of the Jersey Variety Club, he suggested the idea to his host, Sir Billy Butlin, that with the number of charities active in the Island, there should be a body encouraging all types of liaison between them.

Kenneth Syvret MBE attended that very first meeting and remembers that Deputy Tanguy, at the time the Chief Barker of the Variety Club, was elected the first chairman, with Daphne Minihane, MBE, DSG, as the honorary treasurer and Stuart White was appointed as honorary secretary, keeping “meticulous minutes”.

General meetings of members were held in the Town Hall and were very well attended.

Daphne Minihane recalls that committee meetings were held at Sir Billy Butlin’s home.

Sir Billy was both patron and benefactor, having provided an initial sum of £10,000 with which the Association was able to provide considerable support for local charities. However, while the Association was not known or recognised in its early years as a source of grants, its members, particularly the smaller or poorer ones, became increasingly reliant on its support, both by way of knowledge and funding.

By 1980 the charity sector had developed considerably. The AJC had 52 member charities (most of which are still in existence today), and there were some significant projects in the pipeline involving various charities, which were playing an increasingly important role within the community. These projects included the building of the Leonard Cheshire Home (now the Jersey Cheshire Home); the purchase of a coach for the Jersey Society for the Disabled (now known as Enable) and a new library for dyslexic children.

So, to recognise the 1981 International Year of the Disabled, the Association approached the States of Jersey with a request to receive the net Jersey profits from one CI Lottery draw a year to benefit local charities.

From 1981 to 2019 the Association received Government funds from the CI Lottery for distribution and over these years has become perhaps best known as a grant giver for local charities.

Grant giving is not our only objective, and we continue to provide support to local charities by way of information, training and representation, while still comprising an entirely voluntary executive committee.

Along the way we became a legally incorporated association under the unique ‘Loi (1862) sur les teneures en fidéicommis et l’incorporation d’associations’ and, before the enactment of the Charities (Jersey) Law 2014, the Association played the principal role in encouraging good standards of governance among its members, which currently number 300 local charities.

For my own part I have been involved since 2008 and have seen the Association adapt and change - and indeed we must continually evolve to meet changing needs.

Throughout 2021 we shall be celebrating our anniversary in various ways - notably partnering with Jersey Finance Limited, which itself is celebrating 60 years of the Jersey finance industry and its own 20th birthday.

We shall also be hosting a series of webinars around topics designed to help our local charities and community step towards the future.

In addition, as part of these celebrations we shall be holding the biennial Jersey Charity Awards, which focus on excellence across the sector, so please watch out for further information and announcements!