Recently, a number of funding cuts have been affecting organisations and charities who I’ve worked with. I’m not going to go into details of them all individually, because some are uncertain, others are complicated and quite frankly, it’s not important.
What is important is that this scares me. It absolutely terrifies me.
I have seen charities and campaigns change people’s lives. I have seen people open up about things for the first time. I have seen individuals go from being too scared to speak, to standing up in front of 100 people, making a speech. I have seen shy, quiet, individuals lead groups of people and achieve amazing feats. And this only covers those who are long-term volunteers with these groups. It doesn’t include those who volunteer on a more ad-hoc basis or those who organisations have reached through their work.
It can often be hard to measure outcomes when it comes to some of these groups. In some campaigns, you can easily gather solid data to show your work. You can say that you’ve collected ‘x’ items for a food bank, or spoken to ‘y’ members of the public about a particular issue, but that’s often about as far as it goes. It’s not the same as in the corporate world where it can be easier to provide quantitative data for your work with clear ‘cost and reward’ diagrams.
The thing about this work is that is reaches people. It changes real people’s lives. People who have stories. People with hopes, dreams and aspirations. People who have a past, a present and a future. People like you and me. It reaches into their lives, tackles their insecurities and sends them out into the world as bright, hopeful people with light in their eyes and a limitless future.
So, I’m scared. I’m scared that the great teams and communities we have built up will fizzle out. I’m scared that those who are quieter or can’t shout quite as loud will be forgotten. I’m scared that we will not be able to effectively care for the more vulnerable members of our community. I worry for future generations. Without some campaigns and organisations, who I know are now ending, I wouldn’t be where I am today, I really wouldn’t. Speak to anyone who knows me and they will testify to that.
This is my plea to councillors, MPs, commissioners, and anyone else who funds these projects. Please don’t just look at the basic numbers. Please consider the further impact that cutting these vital resources might have. You will find that a lot of front-facing projects reach people in ways which will most likely save money further down the line. Please look at how they impact real people. Talk to us – we are always happy to respond! I’m urging you to look beyond spreadsheets, step outside and go and meet people. Because at the end of the day, money is a fleeting concept. But people will stick by you through thick and thin. People are what makes the world go round.