Small Charity Week reminds us why it’s vital we continue to support our small charities
By Justin Sargent OBE, Chief Executive
You would be forgiven for wanting to gloss over a column about charities after all the controversies covered (and uncovered) by the press recently. There is, of course, another and much brighter side to the coin and so, at the start of Small Charity Week 2021, please allow me to attempt to lift your spirits and your confidence in a sector I have been privileged to be part of for eighteen years.
While the charities that you may be most familiar with are likely to be the national and international causes that raise tens of millions of pounds each year, did you know that almost 75% of registered charities run on less than £100,000 a year, largely on a voluntary basis?
This 75% of the sector also tends to be the charities that are least well known but, by and large, touch our lives more frequently than we may be aware.
Imagine for a minute, your life without local charities: your local pre-school, which arguably gives your children the best start in life, may no longer be there; the breakfast club in your children’s school may be gone; there would be no counselling for a young person with an eating disorder; no community transport to help your disabled neighbour attend hospital or go shopping; people with dementia and other life limiting illnesses – and their carers – will be left with little or no support; you may no longer have a local community hall; and your village shop (or even pub) may have shut down for good.
These are just a few examples of the contributions small, local charities make to our day-to-day lives. You may call these ‘services’, but they are so much more. They say, “let’s do this together” rather than “this is what we’re going to do for you.” And because they are part of your community, they can go the extra mile – or ten.
I’ll share just one true story here, to illustrate this: when an elderly bus passenger was being dropped off at her home one winter’s evening, she told the driver that she wasn’t looking forward to the weekend: her boiler was broken and the engineer wasn’t coming until the following week. Without being asked, he drove back to the bus depot, picked up an electric heater from the office and took it back to her.
At Somerset Community Foundation we hear stories like this all the time. You can find some of them on our website here.
Please do whatever you can to support the work of small charities through donations or volunteering. But perhaps most importantly, please remember to celebrate the role they play in all our lives. Thank you.