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NGOs, foundations and charities
 

The UK is home has a large number of non-governmental organisations and charities in a wide range of areas. Some of the most active work in the areas we consider here, medicine, the environment and overseas development.


Medicine

The largest single grouping of bodies, The Association of Medical Research Charities, was formed in 1972. This grouping represents many charities whose main activity is medical research. Their contribution to medical research in the UK was £340 million in 1995/6.

The five largest of these bodies in terms of spending are:

  • The Wellcome Trust
    The Trusts' aim is to support clinical and basic scientific research into human and veterinary medicine. Special interests include the support of research in tropical medicine, vision and the history of medicine. The Trust helps researchers to pursue their research by providing the necessary resources, career development, training opportunities and other support.

  • Imperial Cancer Research Fund
    The Imperial Cancer Research Fund was established in 1902 and conducts one third of all cancer research in the UK, working with doctors and scientists all over the world in the fight against cancer. Their aim is to prevent, treat and cure cancer in all its forms.

  • Cancer Research Campaign

  • British Heart Foundation

  • Arthritis and Rheumatism Council

The Nuffield Foundation was founded in 1943 by Lord Nuffield for the advancement of science, health and social well-being, advancement of education, care of old people and research in aging. Most grants are awarded to universities and other research institutions of recognised standing in the UK and commonwealth countries and the emphasis is on fundamental research. Fellowships and other awards are available to citizens of the UK, and to Commonwealth citizens from overseas.


The environment

A large number of organisations in the UK work on the environment at international, national or local level. Between them, environment and nature conservation groups in the UK had a total income in excess of £90 million in 1995/96, of which just over two-thirds came from voluntary contributions. The number of people employed in the UK in voluntary environment and nature conservation groups is estimated to be at least the equivalent of 17,000 full time staff.

The main areas of activity covered by these diverse organisations are:

  • nature conservation
  • marine conservation
  • agriculture, fisheries and food
  • transport
  • energy
  • climate change
  • resource consumption
  • pollution and toxic materials
  • waste management (including the reuse, recycling or disposal of wastes)
  • environmental education
  • public access to environmental information
  • planning and the environment
  • urban and rural settlements

These organisations work in many different ways, that range from the direct management of nature reserves, to the provision of grants for projects undertaken by others, and which also include development and advocacy of new policy approaches, lobbying and campaigning, and sponsorship of research. Many the larger environmental organisations each run several programmes which deal with different sets of environmental issues. These programmes often may combine a focus on projects with work on policy advocacy.

Those environmental organisations which have overseas programmes may adopt approaches that seek to integrate environmental concerns as a part of social development programmes, and point to close linkages between poverty and poor environmental quality.

A list of some of the UK and overseas environmental organisations which have internet sites is available at OneWorld Oneline which provides links to the internet sites of its partner Environment and Development Organisations. These can also be accessed in alphabetical sections: A-D E-H I-M N-R S-Z.


Overseas development

Development groups in the UK range from small organisations with relations with just a few specific communities in the developing world, through to major international agencies such as OXFAM and Christian Aid. Together the international development charities in the UK had a total income in excess of £484 million in 1995/6, with voluntary contributions making up between fifty-five to sixty per cent of this total. The number of people employed in the UK in voluntary international development organisations is estimated to be at least the equivalent of 23,000 full time staff.

The work of the UK's development groups focuses on long-term development through partnerships that aid marginalised people - including the poor, women and children - in developing countries in their efforts to overcome poverty, ill health, and other disadvantages which they face. A central objective is to help marginalised people to develop and use skills and technologies which give them more control over their lives and which contribute to the sustainable development of their communities.

This is accomplished through programmes of development projects, training and education, as well as through advocacy of policy and other changes to address the root causes of poverty and social injustice.

Many UK development organisations are able to provide specialist research and support for project development, management and evaluation. A number of them also provide emergency relief to help victims of conflict, natural or other disasters.

UK development organisations are also active in the areas of collaborative research, policy studies, consensus building and provision of public information to build awareness of development issues in the UK and worldwide. Through this work they offer a forum for discussion of the problems facing developing countries.

Between them, these organisations are active in a wide range of developing and newly-industrialising countries, as well as in countries in some parts of central and eastern Europe and the former USSR. Collectively, the main activities of these organisations cover a very wide range of issues including:

  • agriculture, forestry and fisheries
  • community development
  • disaster preparedness
  • education and training
  • environmental protection
  • health and nutrition
  • housing
  • human rights
  • population
  • savings and credit schemes
  • small business development
  • urban issues
  • water and sanitation.

The main types of assistance provided in these areas include the funding of local organisations, technical assistance and capacity building, project and programme development and management, assistance in policy and advocacy, and emergency response assistance. Many development organisations, both large and small, have built up considerable technical and training expertise in one or more specialist areas.

Funding sources in addition to voluntary contributions include UK bilateral overseas aid, European Union overseas aid, and multilateral sources.

A list of some of the UK and overseas development organisations which have Internet sites is available at OneWorld Oneline which provides links to the Internet sites of its partner Environment and Development Organisations. These can also be accessed in alphabetical sections: A-D E-H I-M N-R S-Z.

A list of major development NGOs, including some which provide funding for projects by other groups, is available on ELDIS, a service maintained by the Institute of Development Studies and the British Library for Development Studies, Sussex, UK.

Information services and systems for development professionals and for those working on issues of economic, social and sustainable development, are available on DevLine which is also maintained by the Institute of Development Studies and the British Library for Development Studies, Sussex, UK


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