Communities hit hard by voluntary sector void, argues Guardian

An interesting article published in the Guardian this weekend has shone a spotlight on one of the areas in Britain that, it claims,  suffers because it lacks a vibrant voluntary sector. The article looked at the reality of daily life in the Camborne area of Cornwall, and found that many residents dealing with a number of social and economic problems do not have access to charities or voluntary groups that could provide support to them.

Citing a recent report by the Centre for Social Justice, the Guardian article argues that charity is centralised in Britain, with the numbers showing that money is overwhelmingly given to the largest charities, despite the thousands of smaller localised charities operating across the country.

According to the report, the dominance of large charities is such that just 3% of all charities are responsible for three quarters of the sector’s total expenditure, leaving the remaining 97% of charities left to battle over the other quarter of income coming into the sector.

The report goes on to cite research carried out by the Charities Aid Foundation, which discovered that “Britons are three times more likely to give to medical research than to the homeless (and seven times more money)” and in addition that “twice as much is given every year to animals than the elderly.”

Whilst Britain does include a number of national, well-known charities, many smaller charities find success because they are able to help address a specific need in a local community, or because they are able to provide specialised help. However many people prefer to donate to a specific charity that they are comfortable with, which can mean smaller charities struggling to raise enough money to operate.

The Back Britain’s Charities campaign has warned of the dangers posed by falling charities incomes, and acknowledged that it is often small and medium sized charities that are struggling to make ends meet. That’s why it’s so important that people give as regularly as they can – so that smaller charities are able to plan their expenditure over the coming months, and make sure their income goes as far as possible.
We’ve also warned of the danger of cuts by government to charities, and how there is a real concern that some local authorities might disproportionately cut funding to charities, which means that the people who rely on charities and voluntary groups for support suffer. With spending restrictions set to continue for the foreseeable future we’ll be keeping an eye on councils as they set budgets for the next financial year, and check that they aren’t using cuts to charities as an easy way of balancing the books.

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