Theresa May’s recent ‘shared society’ speech was important for a number of reasons. Firstly, she chose to make her first major speech of the year to an audience of charity professionals at the Charity Commission. Secondly, she spoke of her vision being “Where we all take responsibility for each other as well as businesses, charities and the Government [a shared society] that doesn’t just value our individual rights but focuses rather more on the responsibilities we have to one another.” She could easily have been describing the network of 46 Community Foundations across the UK of which we are proud to be part.
It remains to be seen what this means for small local groups and organisations, most of which rely on their selfless (and often unrecognised) volunteers and operate on a shoestring whilst making an enormous difference to their local communities and people in need. At Devon Community Foundation we welcome this direction of travel but are acutely aware that we are still in an era when public services are under enormous strain, and so more financial support from government resources for the sector looks like a tough argument to win. And donations continue to flow towards large charities which have the resources to put into fundraising:
So while we wait to see what the practical implications of this vision look like, we are still working hard with our donors and the groups we fund to bring immediate, compassionate support to those in our County who are in need of help. Our donors have recognised their plight and that of the small and local groups extending a helping hand whatever the political or economic climate.
2017 seems set to be an exciting year for the Foundation. We are already actively working in partnership with others to find new solutions to health and wellbeing challenges, the growth and development of social enterprises, and helping those furthest from work start their journey towards employment. Whilst none of these projects are easy, they are vital to demonstrating the enormous value that communities bring, so we can all share the joy of seeing local lives transformed, knowing we have played our part in making that happen.