These cuts will destroy local and national charities on which people depend for vital support. These organisations are the back bone of our civil society and will take years to rebuild.
I worked for Cedars Road Hostel (St Mungos), a 120 bed project for vulnerable adults with complex needs. We have been decommissioned (shut down) due to cuts. 44 staff including myself have lost our jobs and the future of our residents is uncertain.
Working in the voluntary sector, since the big society idea I lost my job working with children and youth, improving services due to funding cuts. I was fortunate to find another job again within the voluntary sector. In my new organisation, 10% of staff have lost their jobs in the last year, again meaning huge losses to society.
I have already been made redundant from services to teenage parents. Our service in Lambeth actually achieved the target set by the teenage pregnancy strategy of getting 60% of clients back into work, education, or training. We provided a holistic support service based on one to one group support and information about services. Many of the young parents would not be in training education or work if it was not for the work we had done, and the opportunities we had enabled them to access. These young parents are going to lose a targeted provision of support and empowerment and could result in them and their children becoming isolated within society, limiting their potential and life outcomes.
Our young person's advice and counselling Centre received a total cut in our advice funding just at the time that more and more young people are seeking help to find employment and training opportunities and more people seeking opportunities to volunteer. We have gone from having 5 staff down to 2 staff and 10 volunteers and have been managing like that for more than a year. Without the staff, who support and train the volunteers, and without the volunteer help we would not be able to provide the 8,000 advice and counselling sessions we provide each year. Charities need staff in order to find funding for the project to continue, to arrange insurance, CRB checks and ensure quality of practice throughout the organisation. Charities are being encouraged to become CIC companies which means that in order to compete in the world of business, charity managers most often need business qualifications on top of their professional qualifications. I would like David Cameron to make up his mind. If he truly believes in the Big Society he should support managers to compete with the large companies for contracts and encourage Local Authorities to contract with the Charities or if he believes that charities who provide professional services for their clients, such as ours, where all staff and volunteers have to be qualified in order to practice then the Charities should be supported financially to continue their work with young people (or other clients) and he should put funding into the organisations in respect for the value which charities provide in training volunteers and thus saving the Local Authorities thousands each year. A message I would like to give to you Mr. Cameron is how would you like to do three jobs for very little funding like I have to do. We are encouraged to become businesses - so to do work outside our normal work in order to raise funds - these funds are then to be used to provide the services we provide which should in fact be provided by the local authority, so then as a manager I have to provide counselling, psychotherapy and advice - then we are supposed to help the Big Society by training and supporting a range of volunteers. I would ask you - how would you feel if your role, before you could actually do your job, was to try to sell space in the House of Commons, or run training sessions for business people in order to find the funding to fund the House of Commons and all this before you could actually do your job - and then for you to support 10 volunteers each day with their work, be around to provide a listening ear when life is difficult for them, help to train them, find funding for their expenses. How would you go about that? Life was much easier for me when I had 5 members of staff. The decisions about the voluntary sector have not been fair, in our own Borough we have seen massive overspending on bureacracy and a complete breakdown in partnership work. Top jobs in our Local Authority have been kept and delivery of actual services is less than it has ever been, and so more and more lands on our shoulders. Please get real, the Big Society needs both paid staff and volunteers. Cut backs in funding will mean there are no agencies for them to work for. As a manager, I am worn out and I know others are too.