Introducing the voluntary sector
Introducing the voluntary sector

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Introducing the voluntary sector

6 Funding challenges

Described image
Figure 6 Campaigning against funding cuts

You saw earlier that UK government funding to voluntary organisations decreased in recent years as part of the review of public spending in 2010. The impact of this has been felt particularly in England, although many charities across the UK have had to cut jobs and services. In the next activity you will look at a case study of a voluntary organisation that has had to manage cuts to its funding.

Activity 7 Headway

Allow approximately 10 minutes

Headway (2015) states that it aims to ‘promote understanding of all aspects of brain injury and provide information, support and services to survivors, their families and carers’. The organisation ran a campaign in 2014 to draw attention to how their service users were being affected by funding cuts.

Watch the following video about Headway in the West Midlands. Make notes on how the organisation is experiencing cuts to its funding and how its service users are affected.

Download this video clip.Video player: volb1_2015j_vid001-640x360.mp4
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The brain injury charity, Headway, says it’s coming under increasing financial pressure because of cuts to local authority spending. Headway’s told our reporter Ben Sidwell that a lack of council support for patients means increasing numbers are turning to them.
Ben Sidwell
In October last year Mark Schofield’s life changed forever. The father from Kitts Green in Birmingham was so badly injured he had no memory of his own daughter.
Mark Schofield
I was at war with my own brain, if you like, because it just would not switch off, and it was continually throwing everything at me that’s happened, thoughts of dying.
Jackie Schofield
We were at a point where I – I couldn’t cope. We couldn’t cope. And I didn’t know who to call. And it was the only number that I had. And I phoned the number and said, I don’t really know if I’m speaking to the right people but I need to speak to somebody.
Ben Sidwell
That number was for the brain injury charity, Headway West Midlands. Last year they helped many people like Mark in and around Birmingham. But cuts to funding mean many of the services they offer are now under threat.
Rebecca Whenham
The future is very uncertain for all of us. We may be able to run one service but it’s not going to meet the 700 people we were able to support last year.
Ben Sidwell
The charity help those with acquired brain injuries relearn skills and re-integrate socially.
Mark Hannaby
It’d be a massive loss. My life has changed. I’ve only been coming to the centre about six or eight months, and it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me since my brain injury.
Mark Schofield
I was oblivious to it. I didn’t know nothing about brain injury. I didn’t know about Headway until it happened, because it happens. It does happen. It happens to anyone. It can happen to you. But Headway are very, very important, because without them I don’t know what we would have done.
Ben Sidwell
Ben Sidwell, BBC Midlands Today, Birmingham.
With us now is Luke Griggs from Headway. Good evening to you. Some extremely powerful comments in that report there, including the future is uncertain. Would you agree with that?
Luke Griggs
Very much so, unfortunately. Headway West Midlands, as we saw there, are just one of a number of Headway groups across the West Midlands. And indeed, there are 120 odd groups and branches across the whole of the UK. And a recent survey of those groups found that 85% of Headway charities are concerned about their ability to provide long-term support to people affected by brain injury, if the level of funding continues.
And also that report reveals very starkly, doesn’t it, how life can change in an instant without you realising it’s coming up, you know.
Luke Griggs
Absolutely. And it can affect anyone at any time. And when it does, the effects can be devastating, not just for the individual, but also for families, as we saw on that clip. But equally, we know that with the right help at the right time, there can be life after brain injury.
OK, so what exactly is the problem, now?
Luke Griggs
Well, the problem is simultaneous cuts via local authority funding to groups and branches through welfare benefits, through a variety of different ways that people are being restricted from access to Headway services. So some people who previously attended a Headway service are now being told, yes, you can still go because your funding’s still there, but we’re cutting your transport cost. So they can’t actually get in. Alternatively, other people are actually finding that their level of need isn’t deemed high enough, which is a real shame because people are being cut out of society.
The trouble is every charity will think it’s special, understandably. So why should Headway be special? Why should it get better treatment from councils?
Luke Griggs
We fully appreciate the difficulty local authorities are facing in terms of balancing the books. What we’re trying to do is help them to use their precious resources in a more appropriate way because it’s a false economy to stop people receiving the rehabilitation they need if that rehabilitation is actually going to help them to become more independent and, therefore, less likely to be reliant on more expensive, long-term state care in the future.
Luke Griggs, thank you very much indeed.
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The news report initially focuses on an individual’s story, which makes the film hard-hitting but also explains who the organisation is trying to help. One clear theme from the report is that it is not just cuts to Headway’s services that are important but also cuts across public services. So, even if Headway can provide a service, someone whose benefit has been cut leaving them with no money for transport, or whose eligibility criteria for funding has changed, would not be able to access Headway’s service. The spokesperson also highlights how cutting one smaller service might lead to a bigger drain on health and social care services in the long term.

The video illustrates many of the issues highlighted this week around the complexities of different funding sources.

Now all that is left for you to complete this week is the first badge quiz.


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