The Prime Minister wants to promote a greater sense of social responsibility, and has been talking about non-state organisations playing a role in overcoming social problems from the very beginning of his leadership.
Gillian Goodchild is not convinced that he understands what that means. She is family support co-ordinator of Hackney Family Back-up (HFBU). HFBU is a local charity that supports families of children and young adults with disabilities and disabling medical conditions. It offers services to improve the quality of life of disabled children aged up to 17 years and their families. Due to a lack of funding, it faces closure by the end of March. She says: “We lost our core funding and the central contract has to stop. We are not able to provide high-standard services any more.”
“I have an extremely low opinion of the idea of Big Society.” She continued,”Cameron doesn’t have the slightest understanding of voluntary work.”
Some of HFBU’s services will now be run by other organisations. Goodchild says that HFBU has been excluded on cost, rather than quality, grounds. Local people who need help are upset at news of the closure because they may not have access to the same level of support.
Goodchild stressed that her organisation is doing it’s best to advise these families: “What we are doing now is helping families not to panic and make sure there’s no break in support when moving to the new providers.”
Many other charities and organisations in Hackney are currently in a similar situation. According to Goodchild, some of them are uncertain about where to get funding from April onwards, from which point care and support may be compromised.