What is so scary about charity?

Why do successive Governments hate the voluntary sector so much?

Every year organisation after organisation is forced to close when their funding is withdrawn Organisations that have helped so many people are lost. During my working life I have been made redundant three times and, on every occasion, it has been due to the reduction of one charity or another’s means of support. Organisations that had, in one instance, been around for fifty years at the time of closure, gone forever.

My first experience of redundancy was when my local council withdrew the grants it paid to our Centre for Independent Living. An entire London borough, full of disabled people, who no longer had access to the support they needed. And half a dozen disabled people out of work. Me included.Then there was the disability organisation that had been serving the needs of all disabled Londoners for fifty years. Funding stopped. Disabled people in our nation’s capital left unsupported and another ten disabled employees thrown on the scrapheap. Me included. My most recent experience of redundancy was when the national organisation I worked for than helped and supported disabled people with legal issues was almost forced to close as well. Even more disabled people out of work. Me included. Thankfully, the organisation is still in existence but it’s size has diminished dramatically.   

And now, an organisation that means a lot to one of my children is under threat. So much so that my child has created an online petition to try to save it. This time it is a charity which supports LGBT victims of domestic violence nationwide. Over the past financial year it has helped over 10,000 service users,  People who would have found it significantly more difficult to access the support they need at a crucial and terrifying time in their lives.  

What is going on? What is the problem? Why is the Government doing this? Why are they taking away the money these organisations need so much and causing, at the very least, service reductions but, in many instances, closures and yet more redundancies. Anyone would think they were frightened. Anyone would think that these charities were some sort of threat to someone. Anyone would think that someone wants to restrict their activities. All these organisations all have one thing in common. They are all organisations which have challenged or are continuing to challenge local and national governmental actions and policies towards minority groups. Disabled people, LGBT people. Both groups of individuals who experience, almost daily, discrimination. Both groups of people who need help, advice and protection.

This week it has been revealed that the Cabinet Office has announced a new clause in grant agreements which will ban charities and other organisations that receive Government grants from using that money to lobby Government and Parliament about issues concerning the groups they support. Why? Could it be because the Government is fully aware that what they are doing is going to hurt people,make their lives so much more difficult and, in some instances, dangerous. Maybe even life threatening. What does it take for this Government to ensure that all citizens are supported, not just the wealthy few. Charity can be defined as the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need. This Government, and successive Governments over the past three or four decades, seem to have forgotten this and, instead, seem to see our organisations as easy targets. If you don’t want us to fight you, stop proposing and passing legislation which will cause discrimination, violence and harm to the people who are least able to do anything about it without help. Listen to us when we tell you what we need and then we might thank you and not have to challenge you at every turn.

To support ‘Broken Rainbow’, please read and sign the petition at: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/120828. Thank you.

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