This week I finished delivering two programmes of funding seminars, and am completing a third, with inspirational local organisations, where I’ve met some great people who work in difficult situations, for little or no money or thanks.
Chrysalis Domestic Violence Services support the victims and survivors of domestic violence and their families, and work towards the prevention of abuse in the home. Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, they are available to give advice, and a listening ear. On top of this, they offer one to one or group counselling, and support individuals as advocates, accompanying them to court and other official meetings. Chrysalis was set up, and is run, by women from the community, who have developed their skills and experience over many years, and are really committed and dedicated to their cause, despite an on-going struggle for funding
Providing services across the area, Merseyside Coalition of Inclusive Living (MCIL) is a User Led Organisation (ULO), managed by Disabled People. They promote the social inclusion of and equality of opportunity for disabled people across Merseyside, representing their service users at public meetings with statutory bodies and other agencies, as well as providing a free information and advice service to disabled people, their families and other agencies. Although the current economic climate is having an impact of what they can offer, their enthusiasm to continue to support their service users and peers shines through.
My seminars for MRANG are drawing to a close. They work with refugee and asylum seeker women, who are pre and post natal, supporting them through the provision of advice, information, practical help (such as equipment, clothes and nappies for newborns), and advocacy. MRANG have a few permanent staff and a team of volunteers, who support the women in a caring and confidential environment, working sensitively with women who are often the victims of trauma and rape in their home countries.
All three of these much-needed organisations have a hard battle ahead – changes in funding, reduction of grants, the move to contracting – all these leave their futures in doubt. The dedicated people who work for them, paid and unpaid, are doing everything they can to ensure that they can continue to support their service users. The users fiercely support the services they’ve received – there’s never a shortage of moving testimonials – and don’t know where they would go without them.
While I can help them look at funding opportunities and alternative ways of raising money, I can’t help but think that, despite all the talk of a Big Society, unless some easily-accessible pots of funding become available the future outlook for these inspirational charities and their service users is looking bleak.