By Mark Freeman, CEO of CCVS. November 2022.
This blog is about why we as a sector need to be angry. It sets out my thoughts on why we need to deliver angrily and starts to think about how we might communicate our anger. The blog was inspired by the latest CCVS research.
Gordon Brown wrote in the Guardian that
“For the first time since the welfare state was created, it is the food bank, not social security, that is now our safety net, and charity, not universal credit, that is our last line of defence.”
Foodbanks have become the norm, so much so that we have seen politicians visiting, opening, and congratulating them on their work.
We are helping set up warm hubs because people can’t heat their homes.
More people are losing their homes as they find rent, mortgage or energy costs spiralling.
Everyone working in the sector will have their own story. They have told us how demand has increased. How the people they help have more complex needs as they cannot get access to services.
Yet as a sector we quite rightly try to do that bit more, raise that bit of extra funding, ask those volunteers to do that one extra shift. The sector quite rightly doubles down and keeps delivering. that is how it should be. that is what you do.
But if our research has shown anything it is not a bottomless pot of capacity, organisations and individuals are stretched. We know staff have left; volunteers not returned after the pandemic. We know that money is harder to come by but still we keep delivering, right up to the point where we can’t anymore.
Gordon Brown goes on to say
“Just as need rises, our country’s voluntary sector finds itself as beleaguered as the people it is helping. Compassion is not running out but cash is. Donors who have a little and generously give to those who have nothing will soon be unable to give at all. Gifts left on supermarket trolleys are declining. Many charities, like a local welfare fund I know, are flat broke. Even churches, which have selflessly offered their heated halls to help elderly people stay warm, fear they will now struggle to pay their own fuel bills.”
So, what are we, what are you going to do about it?
I suggest that you start to deliver angrily.
That is not to direct anger at those you work with, for them you will be the helpful, approachable, non-judgemental professionals you have always been.
- Reserve that anger for the people who have put us and more importantly those we work with in this position.
- Reserve your anger for those that spread the myths of the striver and the shirker.
- Reserve your anger for those that blame the people in need and t those who make decisions that are about preserving their power or their fortune.
- Reserve your anger for those that deny there is a problem or offer too little too late
Those people need to hear the roar of the small charity and the community group.
Too often the voices of our larger cousins in the charitable world are lost or are just one side of a balanced news item or are dismissed as fake news.
But when the thousands of small charities raise their voices how powerful could that become.
I ask you to tell your stories and those of the people you work with
I ask that you make more opportunities to explain why you have to exist and what you are dealing with
I ask you to call out the consequences of decision makers at all levels.
I ask you tell people what needs to change so that your services are no longer needed, however unlikely that is to be the case.
I ask you to join together with other local voices to amplify your message.
Your organisations should not be the safety net, they should be the support that helps people get off the net once you have landed on it or the harness that ensures people do not fall onto the net.
It is no longer enough to just be brilliant at what you do. I am asking you to shout. To stamp your feet, to demand change.