Helping Households Under Great Stress (HHUGS) is deeply concerned about the allegations made against the Charity in a recent report by the widely discredited Henry Jackson Society.
The allegations made in the 172 page report are too voluminous to address on a point-by-point basis but HHUGS does make the following observations.
1. HHUGS has from its inception proudly promoted the nature of its work. It was established to provide emotional, financial and practical assistance to the families of those individuals impacted by anti-terrorism measures: women, children and elderly parents who are innocent of any wrongdoing but marginalised and ostracised on account of perceived guilt by association.
2. The remit of HHUGS work will only be perceived to be controversial by those who view it through a lens of bigotry and prejudice. Most open-minded members of society however view HHUGS as carrying out critical pastoral work supporting vulnerable families of prisoners similar to other charities such as Family Lives, Partners of Prisoners and Affect. Ministry of Justice research from 2017 found that promoting visits between prisoners and family members led to an almost 40% reduction in reoffending. HHUGS has received praise for its pastoral and rehabilitative work from leading lawyers, criminologists, academics, counsellors and social workers from a variety of different faith backgrounds.
3. HHUGS has a healthy working relationship with the Charity Commission and has never been investigated by it. HHUGS has held several meetings with the Commission in the past to discuss the nature of its work, its policies and procedures including its risk assessment policy for all speakers. The Commission has been satisfied that HHUGS continues to comply with its legal and regulatory duties.
4. HHUGS takes great care and regard in appointing its trustees. Its current and previous trustees include doctors, lawyers, teachers and accountants. All are and have been of good character and professional standing and the HJS’s attempts to smear them are nothing short of vindictive. The individual trustees are seeking legal advice in relation to the allegations made against them.
5. The HJS report is filled with inaccuracies, exaggerations and untruths. It lacks academic standing and is more akin to political propaganda. HHUGS lauds the majority of the mainstream media for choosing not to publicise the report.
6. HHUGS notes with concern the worrying levels of paranoia that emerge from the report through its weaving of elaborate conspiracy theories involving British Muslims. The report is an anti-Muslim trope which implies a plot, nefarious agenda and casts aspersions on Muslim charities, intentions and loyalties without evidence. While HHUGS appreciates the need for free speech in a democratic society, such views as expressed by the HJS in its report seek to divide British society through an “us and them” framework.
7. The HJS report must be viewed from the perspective of its authors. The HJS has previously been criticised for pushing an anti-Muslim agenda. Its associate director Douglas Murray has previously stated that “All immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop â€¦ conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board” (February 2006) and that the solution to terrorism is for there to be “less Islam” (28 May 2017).
8. HHUGS fears that the report is indicative of a deeper agenda being pursued by the HJS and/or its donors. The HJS was recently exposed as receiving funding from the Japanese government to initiate propaganda against China. In light of the HJS’s proven links to neoconservative and Islamophobic institutions such as Breitbart, it is quite possible that this report is driving a foreign agenda. In light of the above, HHUGS asks the Charity Commission whether it will be investigating the HJS for its anti-Muslim bias. Given the excessive influence of the HJS on public policy and government, the Commission should require the HJS to declare its main funders and grant givers in its annual accounts.
9. HHUGS echoes the concerns expressed by Sir Stephen Bubb(Chief Executive of ACEVO, 2000-2016) on Channel 4 News that Charity Commission resources were in “the wrong place” with a huge number of investigations being conducted into Muslim charities rather than into safeguarding and whistleblowing. Considering the real abuse that has recently emerged involving a number of international relief charities, it would be unwise for the Charity Commission to invest further resources into investigating charities based on the paranoid conspiracy theories of an anti-Muslim charity whose own actions may require investigation by the Commission.
10. HHUGS plays a critical role in empowering children and young people who have been traumatised and marginalised by their experiences. The support that it provides helps to neutralise possible resentment felt by innocent families who feel they have been unfairly treated. This report simply serves to detract from its excellent work and track record.