Local charities feeling very small in ‘Big Society’


Local charities are worried about the effect David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ will have on their services and the people who need their help.

Marla Ellis, senior advice and support worker of Step Forward, an independent charity supporting young people in Tower Hamlets, said: “I don’t find the idea of ‘Big Society’ helpful, at least in the short term, unless they really start putting money in. More young people are coming than before, but we are not able to deliver all the services.”

Cameron’s plans aim to make it easier for people to volunteer in the Big Society, but Marla suggested that it was not getting easier at all: “Now it is even more difficult to run the centre, especially after the spending cuts. We don’t have enough funding. It is the same situation for many charities and organizations in Tower Hamlets. Like Step Forward, many of them are having problems maintaining the same size as before or even existing.”

Step Forward provides free and confidential services to young people aged 11-25, aiming to improve their quality life by, providing advice, counseling and personal development training. Currently, there are eight people working in the team, but due to funding shortages, at least two people will loose their jobs in the coming weeks, even though figures have shown that the number of young people using their services has doubled in the last 5 years. Last year, the charity worked with over 1,800 young people in and around the borough.

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