Turkish Cypriot groups win prestigious Third Sector charity award for their Turkish earthquake relief work

Each year, the Third Sector Awards recognises the achievements of charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises across 33 categories covering sector excellence, partnerships and talent.

At last Friday’s awards ceremony at The Brewery, London, three organisations from the British Turkish community – the Turkish Cypriot Community Association (TCCA), Cyprus Islamic Association, Turkish Police Association (TPA), together with HIS Church and the Arsenal Foundation, received the Charity Partnership of the Year award for their incredible combined efforts to collect and deliver urgent aid to those affected by the two huge earthquakes that struck eastern Turkiye on 6 February 2023.

The earthquakes were the most powerful tremors to strike the region for over 80 years and their impact left some 60,000 people in Turkiye and Syria dead, and an estimated 14 million people without vital supplies due to the widespread damage that affected an area the size of Germany.

The UK has one of the largest Turkish diasporas in the world and soon after news broke of the devastating earthquakes, many people were desperate to help.

Volunteers from the TCCA, TPA, Cyprus Islamic Association, HIS Church and the Arsenal Foundation came together under the umbrella of the Türkiye Earthquake Initiative.

Within hours, the five organisations had established 18 collection points across London for people to donate much-needed aid, overseen by 165 volunteers. The organisations also formulated a plan for funds to be forwarded to the affected areas, while medical supplies were sourced for a UK emergency medical team, which travelled to Kahramanmaraş – one of the worst affected cities.

The charity partnership resulted in aid being collected from a host of places, including a local medical surgery, while the Arsenal Foundation was able to source 1500 sleeping bags for people displaced by the earthquakes.

By the end of February eight freight containers of aid had been transported and 35 air containers of aid were dispatched. The organisations also helped to establish bereavement counselling for those affected, as well as support schemes to connect families, and started a community rebuild partnership.

The scale and speed of the work impressed the Third Sector judges, who awarded them Charity Partnership of the Year. The earthquake partnership quintet beat six other entries to the award, including a partnership involving The Little Princess Trust and the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG).

This year’s entries were again judged by an independent panel of sector experts chaired by Nihara Krause, founder and chief executive of the teenage mental health charity Stem4, who won the Charity Chief Executive award at last year’s event.

The Third Sector awards continue to include a scheme to spotlight the successes of small, micro, local, and ethnic-minority-led charities by offering a batch of free-entry places to charities with an annual income of less than £100,000.