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Invaluable – but lost
11:08am Wednesday 20th February 2013 in Theatre
THE “Big Society” existed long before David Cameron conjured up his election label as if he had just invented the concept of volunteering.
A vast army of volunteers carries out priceless work in local communities across the country. In many ways, those volunteers are the glue that holds society together.
Today, we publish a story which is laden with irony and underlines how those voluntary organisations are suffering as a result of austerity measures.
At the start of this week, the Prime Minister bestowed a Big Society award on Nightstop North-East, which offers emergency accommodation to homeless youngsters.
The award was in recognition of its “invaluable service, reaching out a helping hand to some of the region’s most vulnerable young people”.
Days later, Nightstop has announced it will be closing its Teesside branch next month because of a lack of funding.
The Big Society Award is nice but it doesn’t help cover the costs that every charity carries. Those organisations – the glue – are coming unstuck because grants from local authorities have dried up.
There will, of course, be the usual debate over who is responsible. The Government will blame inefficient councils, and councils will blame Government cuts.
Either way, the harsh reality is that support for the most vulnerable members of society is being lost and, in such a desperately sad context, awards are meaningless.
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