More Big Society Award winners speak out about the struggle of the voluntary sector

MORE charities which have won "Big Society" awards have spoken about the struggles facing the voluntary sector as a result of government cuts and the economic climate.

The Big Society initiative was set up by the Coalition Government to promote social action and create growth in the charity sector. Its annual award ceremony honours those who work tirelessly to help their communities.

However, many of those recognised by the Prime Minister for their work believe not enough is being done to help the voluntary sector.

The closure of Nightstop’s Teesside branch just days after the homeless charity received a Big Society award led to other award-winning organisations speaking about the difficulties they face.

Street Angels is a country-wide operation that sees thousands of volunteers work to improve the night time culture of their communities by helping to reduce violent crime and sexual assaults.

The organisation, which won a Big Society Award in 2012, works with four projects in the North East.

Founder Paul Blakey said: “There is a struggle across the board for all charities. Some are struggling and we have to do all we can to help. In the North-East our branches in Stockton, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Durham work very closely together in order to support each other.

“The government are not doing enough. Many local services now run by the government could be more effectively run by the voluntary sector and it is very sad to see charities and organisations having to close down when their services are still needed.”

Food Cycle, a charity helping those affected by food poverty, has a hub in Durham.

A spokesman for the organisation said: “We are in a different situation to many charities as we were set up in a recession and have always had to find other sources of funding, but it is much more competitive now and charities are fighting for the same funding.

"These days, people who might want to make donations have less money.

"Also, the trusts and foundations that do offer donations and grants get a lot of their money on the stock markets. When the stock markets do not do well, they cannot offer as much in grants.

“This climate is having a massive impact on the voluntary sector and it all has a knock on effect in providing services. A lot of charities are now left facing very difficult situations.”

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