Lewisham charity speaks out about Big Society

As part of our ongoing coverage on the Big Society, charities in the borough have their say.

Photo: Alex Proimos on Flickr

Bench Outreach is a Crisis Recovery UK project working with homeless people, alcoholics and drug users in South East London. Based in Deptford, their mission is to provide support to vulnerable people regardless of their background, religion or ethnic origin.

Declan Flynn, Senior Project worker, believes that David Cameron’s “mission and passion” is not something new.

“Bench Outreach was  here before the Conservative party introduced the idea of Big Society, and so have other organisations in Deptford Methodist Mission. For us it’s not actually about where the money comes from so much as that the work is there and we will find the money somehow”, says Flynn.

“Our faith has never been placed in any initiatives by government to help people. It actually comes from our faith of people helping people,” he said, “and that is not dissimilar to the ethos behind the Big Society”.

Flynn said: “We do a job that could be said to be the government’s, national or local, responsibility and we do it because in many respects they have not fulfilled the duty to help vulnerable people”.

Bench do not receive funding from the government and are not going to be directly affected by spending reviews, but Flynn is concerned that  many other organisations  are really worried about the cuts because they believe people who use their services are the ones to be affected.

ELL contacted seven different charities in the borough but none were willing to be quoted on the issue, fearing that users could feel insecure about the support they provide.

Video by Maria Arteaga

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