Intergroup meeting: The Role of the Third Sector during Crisis and Recovery: The Case of COVID-19 and Equine Welfare Charities

14 Jul 2020
On 14 July, the Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals organised the intergroup meeting: The Role of the Third Sector during Crisis and Recovery: The Case of COVID-19 and Equine Welfare Charities'.

The virtual meeting had the participation of several Members of the European Parliament who attentively listened to the three presenters Matt Whittaker, Chief Executive Officer of Pro Bono Economics; Barbara Massa, Regional Director Europe at the Donkey Sanctuary; and Roly Owers Chief Executive Officer of the World Horse Welfare.

The meeting was kicked off by MEP Francisco Guerreiro who welcomed all speakers and attendees and highlighted the importance of the topic at the times of COVID-19 crisis. 

The first presentation, available here, was given by Matt Whittaker who made a description of the UK current situation 'there are around 170,000 charities registered in the UK, employing roughly 3 per cent of the total workforce and accounting for just under 1 per cent of GDP' he explained. He mentioned that in practice, charitable activity generates significantly more value of what the official figures show. During his intervention, he set out Pro Bono Economics’ estimate of the true value of the sector in the UK and reflected on what this means for the way in which charities are viewed in the national policy debate.

Following a round of interesting questions moderated by Eurogroup For Animals CEO Reineke Hameleers,  Barbara Massa from the Donkey Sanctuary went through the wide range of daily obstacles for the operations of equine welfare organisations in Europe. She mentioned that the rescue work is a common reality for many NGOs at the times of COVID-19 crisis. She described in a very illustrative presentation available here the struggling reality, which is especially applicable to equine rescues from the Mediterranean area where a number of working equids is present and where the pressure on the economy is much higher than is some of the other EU Member States. She also had the opportunity to briefly present the situation in other Members States such as Ireland and Romania.

The last presentation, accessible here, was done by Roly Owers from the World Horse Welfare who provided some insights on what the EU and the Member States can do to improve the current situation. During his intervention, he mentioned that with the pandemic’s effect on the non-profit equine welfare sector already significant, the true impact is unlikely to be felt until winter and into 2021 and beyond – with inevitable consequences for local communities and governments. He explained that there are good examples of the sector acting to mitigate this impact, but government institutions must also do their part. For example, to be it in providing short-term funding, enabling the sector to continue operations under restrictions and recognising people’s partnership with horses extends beyond sport to human wellbeing and society itself.

Finally, MEP Francisco Guerreiro wrapped up the debate and thanked participants and organisers for their active involvement in the topics discussed. 

You can find the agenda here.

Click below the listen the meeting again 


Stay tuned for the next Intergroup meeting to take place in September! Follow all the updates on our website and social media