Saturday, January 15

Updates to the charitable activities

Well, I took the plunge and offered up my services as a trustee to a another local charity. Its called as Home Start. This is what they do.

We help to increase the confidence and independence of families by:

  • Visiting families in their own homes to offer support, friendship and practical assistance
  • Reassuring parents that their childcare problems are not unusual or unique
  • Encouraging parents' strengths and emotional well-being for the ultimate benefit of their children
  • Trying to get the fun back into family life

Our volunteers, who have parenting experience themselves, can offer:

  • Precious time for listening and talking
  • Help with the children
  • A break for parents
  • Practical help and reassurance
  • A chance to meet other parents in similar situations
  • Support to use local services and resources

Parents ask for Home-Start's help for all sorts of reasons:

  • They may feel isolated in their community, have no family nearby and be struggling to make friends
  • They may be finding it hard to cope because of their own or a child's physical or mental illness
  • They may have been hit hard by the death of a loved one
  • They may be really struggling the with emotional and physical demands of having twins or triplets - perhaps born into an already large family

Not sure how much I can do as a volunteer although that will definitely be helpful. There are many immigrant families here in Harrow and if I can help. But I think as a trustee, I can bring on some force multipliers in terms of communications, fund raising, technology and and and. Lets see, will be invited soon for an interview soon Smile

I have fulminated before how charities aren't charities but act as government departments, whining and moaning about the lack or reduction of government funding. Here was a great letter on this issue. I quote:

David Robinson, the co-founder of Community Links, speaks for many publicly funded charities threatened by cuts (Charity chief: cuts may doom PM's big society, 30 December). While praising the "big society" concept that promises influence for third-sector organisations, he bemoans the pace of the withdrawal of public cash underpinning the sustainability of nearly a quarter of all charities.

But with over 250,000 charities in the UK, the last thing the UK needs is another. All may have been set up with the best of intentions, but there's massive duplication in giving and huge operational inefficiencies, with ferocious competition for funding, influence and profile. It's an unsustainable model at the best of times, so why should the taxpayer continue to prop it up now?

The third sector will be much better for consolidation where back-office costs can be cut, income streams enhanced and brand presence increased. Mergers are increasingly common, while one well-known firm of solicitors is touting for business using a line on how to conduct a hostile takeover of a charity. Trustees are beginning to recognise that increasing their public benefit is similar to increasing shareholder value. The jury's still out on the "big society", but the consequence of having paid charities to deliver public services over so many years is the inevitable commoditisation of the third sector.

It's about time that the third sector woke up to these unpalatable but necessary private-sector realities. In developing the most profuse charitable sector in the world, Britain has also created the most self-indulgent, where over one in 10 charities rely on state funding for more than half their income. David Robinson is right to be concerned about the pace of change but, "big society" or not, the coming storm is unavoidable. In 2011 the winners will be those organisations that start to behave more like corporate raiders than third-sector martyrs.

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