From Campaign to Charity
During the 21st century, CHE began discussing the future of the organisation, at a time when many of the orginal aims of our campaigns had been achieved, the torch of LGBT Campaigning had passed to other hands, and several key people had died.
Derek Oyston's legacy in 2005 provided a major boost to our finances, but raised the question of whether CHE should seek charitable status. At that time it was rejected for three reasons:
- charitable status would be incompatible with our campaigning activity
- the reporting requirements were thought to be very onerous
- only organisations with an income over £5,000 a year could be registered.
We initally used the Derek Oyston legacy to fund a series of awards in his name, but subsequently decided to initiate a more permanent memorial, by commissioning the writing of a major book about our history, in the context of the history of the struggle for LGBT rights more generally. In 2010 we contracted with Peter Scott-Presland for him to write what was to be Amiable Warriors (Volume One published in 2015). The contract was signed on CHE's side by Griffith Vaughan Williams, who died a week or so later, marking a major milestone in our history. A well-attended reunion later that month (November 2010) included a lively dabate about CHE's future, with some members thinking CHE should continue, others that it should be wound up, its work done. The deaths of our founder Allan Horsfall in 2012, and his long-term supporter Ray Gosling the following year, were two further breaks from the past.
Ross Burgess (then Treasurer) and Nick Billingham (then Trustee) at the LGBT History Month launch, Oxford, November 2019
The 2018 Annual Conference approved the principle of exploring other structures for CHE, including becoming a grant-awarding trust. A key aim of such a trust would be the continuing research into CHE's history, and the publication of further volumes of Amiable Warriors.
In October 2019 we wrote to members outlining the situation and outlining the proposed actions, which were discussed iand debated at our Annual Conference on 14 December 2019, which called for the setting up of a 'trust' or equivalent to inherit CHE's funds and support the continued Amiable Warriors project and other other projects related to LGBT+ history.
In 2021 the seven EC members, plus the three Trustees, formed themselves into a Transition Team, meeting monthly online via Zoom and chaired by our Trustee and Vice-President Michael Steed, with support from our Secretary, Peter Burman, and Treasurer, Ross Burgess. The Transition Team looked into how to form such a 'trust' and in whether it should be a registered charity. We held discussions with a solicitor and with the LGBT Consortium, which clarified considerably the way forward.
A change in the law in 2013 had swept away the main objections to charitable status: it was now possible to form a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) with much less stringent reporting requirements, and no £5,000 limit – and it was clear that any new charity would not be undertaking political campaigning.
In March 2021 the Transition Team unanimously voted to set up a new CIO, the CHE Research Trust (CHERT), to be registered with the Charity Commission. with a view to CHE being wound up in its existing form.
The process of setting up the CIO proved to be somewhat protracted, partly because of the extra work that the Covid-19 crisis had placed on the Charity Commission. However our application was submitted to the Commission in July 2021, and the registration of CHERT was finally approved in March 2022.
The Conference of 15 October 2022 approved the final phase of the transition to the new arrangement, by moving to a new, simpler CHE constitution, and adopted a 'Memorandum of Wishes for CHERT', drafted by the Transition Team, to record CHE members' views as to how CHERT's Board of Trustees might carry out the objects below. Existing CHE members henceforward became Associate Members of the CIO, and CHE would be transferring the bulk of its funds to CHERT.
Objects of the CIO
The Objects Clause for the CIO, drafted by the Transition Team, amended in the light of legal advice, and slightly revised to meet the Charity Commission's requirements, is as follows:
- To advance education for the public benefit about the history of the struggle for LGBT+ rights, including but not limited to the origins and history of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and by contributing to the safe preservation of LGBT+ archives.
- To promote equality and diversity by encouraging a deeper understanding of the causes and progress of changes in public acceptance of LGBT+ rights.
On this website:
- CHE's letter to members, Otober 2019
- the minutes of the 2019 conference (PDF file)
- CHE's 2022 Annual Report (PDF file)
- CHE's new constitution
On the CHERT website (www.chert.org.uk):