The RNLI says it has been “overwhelmed” by a “huge level of support” after accusations its work is assisting migrants.
In less than 24-hours the lifeboat charity received over £200,000 in donations after it posted rescue footage on social media. The charity said in the same 24-hour period there had been a 270% increase in people viewing volunteering opportunities on its website. Normally it would receive around £7,000 in daily donations.
It follows an outpouring of support after the head of the organisation spoke out earlier this week about volunteers facing verbal abuse from members of the public for bringing migrants to safety. Chief executive Mark Dowie said he recognised the migrant crisis was a “polarising issue. He said:
“All decent people will see this as humanitarian work of the highest order” and “crews should not have to put up with some of the abuse they received.”
Yesterday in a statement, the RNLI said the surge in donations in the last 24-hours was “simply incredible”. It said it had benefited from a combination of one off donations, new regular support and supporters increasing their regular contributions.
“This was never a fundraising campaign. We simply wanted to tell the story of our crews and make it clear that our charity exists to save lives at sea. Our mission is to save everyone. Our supporters’ kindness means so much to us, without them we could not do our work, every one is a lifesaver.”
But it said it also recognised that “people have strong opinions on the subject” and that a “small number of benefactors had been in contact to withdraw or cancel their support.”
No.10 reaffirmed its commitment to tackling the issue of small boats crossing the channel, saying:
“This rise is dangerous and unnecessary which is why we’re working to tackle the issue and the gangs behind it.”