Fundamental Blocks of Change

Şemsi Kâmile Canbay
Turkish Red Crescent, Head of Governance Office

The Turkish Red Crescent carries out blood services and is present in the field in case of natural or human-related disasters. In addition, within the scope of preventive efforts against the devastating impacts of disasters, TRC supports the protection of people and nature, the fight against poverty, direct in-kind and in-cash aid to families and individuals in need, and accordingly, makes a significant contribution to the sustainability of life. We can include many sub-categories in terms of practice.

In this framework, TRC will make its practices more effective based on its new charter that has been in place since April 2022. We can categorize the most fundamental changes in the charter under three headings: (i) effective structuring, (ii) widespread structuring, and (iii) more comprehensive service. Basic duties (some of which were not stated in the previous charter but are now essential due to the function of TRC) are included in this charter. Highlights of the charter can be listed as follows: humanitarian diplomacy, using mass media, organizing campaigns, fundraising from natural persons, financial sustainability, microfinance and social enterprise support as an element of social empowerment, striving for a more livable environment, and preventing needs.

Working areas, currently implemented in compliance with the national and international legislation and within the framework of the TRC vision but not included in the previous charter, have also become official thanks to the new charter. The update highlights include the empowerment of vulnerable and disadvantaged people and social integration, contributing to national policy-making processes in social service and aid, organizing, coordinating, and implementing aid activities, conducting projects with stakeholders, supporting socioeconomic development, developing social aid models and programs, carrying out activities regarding asylum-seekers and refugees, contributing to sustainable development, preventing wastage, duties and data sharing regarding chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.

The Headquarters Board of Directors has been assigned to prepare and put the vision and the strategic plan into effect.

The charter now includes the main points supporting organizational capacity. For example, members’ participation in the decision-making process has been legitimized. Members “participate in the meetings and activities of the Turkish Red Crescent and the activities of the department for which they were elected, and express their thoughts and requests.” The number of delegates at the Headquarters General Board increased by increasing the rate of members elected as delegates. In addition, the way has been paved for TRC to become a widely esteemed civil movement by making it easier for regular volunteers and donors to become members upon their request. It has become obligatory to include women and young people in the membership of boards of directors.

Voluntary activities are another crucial matter. As a member of an international voluntary movement, TRC implements voluntary activities and services, which have been updated as its main duty in the new charter. The voluntary structure model established between 2019-2021 is significant because of its different structure that enables the social integration of disadvantaged groups by empowering them. For instance, the “TRC Barrier-Free,” consisting of disabled citizens, works for the benefit of society, not just for disabled people. Therefore, the model ensures that persons with disabilities are involved in a civil society movement of Türkiye and integrate into society.

As an important member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the most widespread humanitarian network in the world, the Turkish Red Crescent has initiated a radical change in terms of the branch structure following the adoption of the new charter. Provincial and district branches were previously structured independently. However, thanks to the establishment of a provincial center structure, these branches have been integrated, making it systematic and obligatory for them to work in coordination.  Although there is more than one branch structure in the same province, all branches work for the benefit of that province and its people. The provincial center is not a hierarchical structure, and the provincial branches have been transformed into provincial centers and have gained the leadership quality that will show a team spirit. District branches, neighborhood and village representatives, and volunteers are the members of this team in the province. Some of the leadership methods include meeting management, performance monitoring and supporting its capacity, conducting feasibility studies, ensuring effective communication, training, and development of the structures in the province. The provincial center also has other responsibilities, such as working based on a plan, ensuring the effective use of resources, implementing projects, ensuring the suitability and appropriateness of services, and being the main point of contact.

This critical transformation in branches will enable the creation of a local structure that is dynamic, effective, efficient, solid, problem-solver, supportive, fair, principled, and a pioneer in change. The building blocks provided by the new charter will lay the foundation for change in TRC.

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