Past, Present & Future

By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

It is always fun, if not a little frustrating to sit back at the end of the year and contemplate what has worked well, not so well and not at all.

But the bigger challenge facing the charitable and voluntary sector is looking ahead and trying to work out what might change, what might get worse and most importantly perhaps, where the money is coming from.

Before the onslaught of austerity and relentless public spending cuts which have hit areas like Torbay hard, charities and voluntary organisations were generally regarded as the third sector.

However, changing times mean that many organisations around the Bay are now on the frontline with public funding of their areas of expertise either negligible or non existent. Either way it is increasingly difficult to come by.

Fortunately there are other funding bodies that have stepped into the breach, family trusts, larger charities and very importantly to us here at the Torbay Community Development Trust, the National Lottery Community Fund which pays for several of our projects.

Politicians of all sides made huge big funding promises in the build up to the election and now we await the outcome of those very public commitments to look after the most vulnerable in our society.

And then there is the great unknown that is Brexit and whether you were in favour of remaining and leaving there will be a financial gap that will need plugging as we go forward.

We know we live in an ageing society and having long lived in an unequal society. A couple of decades ago it remained with the communities to look out for their own and look after the most vulnerable.Less so, these days.

Here in the Bay we have more than our fair share of poverty and deprivation and with that all the problems that come with it be that foodbanks, mental health issues or acute disadvantage.

Working with Ageing Well Torbay has shown us that some of the challenges can be met and improvements made to thousands of lives, but it takes energy, it takes commitment and most of all it takes money.

Imagine This… have been tackling the issues faced at the other end of the scale by working with and on behalf of young people who want to see a better Torbay to allow them to grow up happier and more fulfilled.

TCDT is just one of hundreds of charities and voluntary organisations across the Bay tackling issues such as loneliness and isolation, poverty, homelessness, disability and mental health issues.

Our community builders are in neighbourhoods across the Bay looking out for people, helping people and ensuring people remain connected.

We often work together to find the best solutions, a charity or voluntary organisation may work hand in hand with the National Health Service, the local council or other agencies to come up with the most creative solutions available to them.

Over the last four and a half years at AWT we have tested a lot of theories and thankfully most of the projects we have backed have been successful and people all around the country are learning from us.

But we have been lucky in that we were promised money by the Lottery over a six year period – virtually unheard of in this sector where funding tends to be hand to mouth and contracts, short.

Working in this area, as with so many types of employment these days, is not a great career choice if you are looking for job security. Keeping working means being flexible and being prepared to move around – and that inevitably expertise can be lost as a contract come to an end.

No matter what happens in the next twelve months we know that times have changed and it is unlikely to return to the days when we relied on public servants to sort out all our ills.

On the contrary, it is down to others to step forward – some paid, some volunteers to take up the slack in the void that has been left, and we need to work together to ensure there is less competition and more cooperation.

What we all have in common is the hope that whatever 2020 brings, it is a happier one for those that need it most and it falls to us all, not just those on the frontline or those helping out behind the scenes, to help where we can, when we can.