CEO's End of Year Message 2020

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Posted by Richard Sharp 23rd December 2020 Opinion

Estimated Reading Time: 6 mins

It’s been a year the world will never forget. Many will be glad to see the back of 2020, as we put an eventful and incredibly challenging 12 months behind us. The vaccine breakthrough brings global relief to the global pandemic and is reason for us all to cheer, but as shown by the recent spike in infections caused by a new variant, there is still some distance to go before we can celebrate the end of Covid. Christmas will be a lot different this year, but we hope next year it can return to normal.

Of course, for many families, there will never be a return to normal. We should pause to reflect on the lives tragically lost to the virus, and the suffering caused to their loved ones. It’s a reminder of why we all need to make personal sacrifices and forego the usual festivities in order to protect our own families, communities and the wider population.

We should also reflect on the many people whose lives have been severely impacted by the virus in different ways. From job losses to food poverty to isolation, the effects of Coronavirus have been particularly varied and widespread.

Covid-19 has taught many people in the UK just how vulnerable life can be

What strikes me as I write about the impact of the Covid-19 crisis – tragic fatalities, induced poverty and hardship – is that in other years, I might have been using the same language to talk about similar devastating effects caused by an earthquake or a hurricane overseas. Covid-19 has taught many people in the UK just how vulnerable life can be, and how unexpectedly events can turn on their head. But for many people around the world, 2020 won’t be such an unusual year – so many of them frequently face uncertainty and hardship.

For those of us who devote our lives to serving the most vulnerable, despite the enormity of the crisis we have faced this year and the pressure we’ve been under, there is cause for genuine optimism. The kindness, support and unity people have demonstrated should make us believe that together, we have the courage and resolve to tackle the worst man-made problems the world faces. We’ve seen that global issues need global solutions, and the speed at which vaccines were developed has shown what can be done with collaboration and intent. I hope the value of collaboration is one positive thing we take with us from a difficult year.

For RE:ACT, 2020 began with our response to the bushfires in Australia. Back then, we imagined it would be another year responding internationally to disasters and conducting planned projects, such as our work in Nepal in February, collaborating with the Gurkha Welfare Trust to improve local resilience by providing training in incident management, medical support and water safety.

In March, things took a very different turn and our attention pivoted to the unfolding emergency on home soil. With the UK under threat of being overwhelmed, we rapidly mobilised and deployed on Op RE:ACT – our emergency response to Covid-19. We’ve made a huge difference to people in need and we continue to be on the frontline of the emergency, helping to keep communities safe and secure.

In May, with our Covid-19 response at full tilt, we rebranded to RE:ACT. While we will always remain proud of our heritage and the origins of Team Rubicon UK, over the years we had developed our own identity and unique capabilities, and the success of our domestic response gave us an opportunity to set out on a new path.

There is a whole new audience that never knew us before but now identifies us as a charity that responds incredibly quickly to unmet needs

Although the brand is still young and the name relatively new, we have already forged a strong reputation. There is a whole new audience that never knew us before but now identifies us as a charity that responds incredibly quickly to unmet needs, with a highly effective, skilled and reliable volunteer base.

Our volunteers are what makes this charity so special. They’ve ventured to some far-flung corners of the world without a moment’s hesitation and they stepped up in a huge way to serve the UK in its time of need. Our trained Responders were joined by thousands of veteran volunteers who answered our calls to bolster our emergency response. The volume who came forward shows the strength and character of the veteran community, but I’m proud that we also attract people from the blue light services and other backgrounds who display the same selflessness and desire to serve others. The gratitude we have received from the many organisations and communities we’ve helped is a tribute to every single one of our volunteers, and my only regret is that you don’t receive the full recognition and reward you fully deserve. Thank you so much for all that you give to our cause.

Two of our team did receive public recognition, and we’re absolutely thrilled by the MBEs for Humanitarian Services during Covid-19 awarded to RE:ACT Operations Response Manager, Paul Taylor, and RE:ACT Responder and Trustee, Lizzy Stileman. Both are worthy recipients, not just for their integral service to our Covid-19 response, but for the many international operations they have deployed on, as well as their many years of military service.

Special mention must also go to the entire RE:ACT HQ team. They have been working round the clock for nine months now, supporting our emergency response and keeping the charity running during a hugely stressful and demanding period. Their commitment and resilience are extraordinary, repeatedly finding ways to solve complex problems and making the biggest challenges possible. They prove what can be achieved by a small but determined group and I am hugely privileged to have such a wonderful team support me and our volunteers.

As well as our rebrand, this year we also launched our trading subsidiary, RE:SILIENT, which represents a big leap for the charity and is fundamental to our future sustainability. All profits go to RE:ACT to support our humanitarian mission and our ambition is to practice what we preach and build ourselves into a self-reliant organisation that’s able to help more people in need. True to our nature, we launched RE:SILIENT without investment in the middle of a pandemic, once again demonstrating our impressive ability to thrive in adversity.

RE:SILIENT is still in its early days and it will take time to build. It won’t replace our need to fundraise, but it will enable us to secure our future and do so much more. Our financial situation has never been stable, and we are immensely grateful to all of our donors, partners and supporters for ensuring our survival. Your continued generosity has kept us going during an extremely challenging period and made all of this possible. On behalf of all the staff and volunteers, thank you, and please continue to support us.

RE:ACT has proven time and again that we’re ready to overcome any challenge.

Next year will undoubtedly present new challenges, but RE:ACT has proven time and again that we’re ready to overcome any challenge. Early in 2020, we didn’t know that we would be needed in the UK for such a prolonged period, but our small, determined group of highly capable people threw themselves into the job at hand. We will see this through to the end and continue to provide support, and we’re currently involved in the rollout of large-scale testing and vaccination centres. Beyond Covid, now that we are fully established in the UK, we will remain a key player in national resilience.

We haven’t forgotten our commitment to our international friends and partners, so there will come a time next year when we are able to respond again to overseas disasters. We also want those who have joined RE:ACT in recent months to remain a part of the charity, and we’re working on getting our training up and running again as soon as it’s safe to do so.

2020 has been quite the year. And whilst we hope for a less eventful next 12 months, I’ve no doubt that we’ll be just as busy – because keeping busy means saving lives.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us this past year, and best wishes to you and your loved ones from everyone at RE:ACT.

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