On 16 December, the government launched Local Charities Day to shine a spotlight on the brilliant work of small, local charities and community groups across the UK.
Local Charities Day was launched by Rt Hon Rob Wilson MP, the Minister for Civil Society, as a day to fundraise for these charities and to ‘shout from the rooftop’ about the essential work they do.
The first 1,000 £5 donations made to a local charity through the #GiveMe5 campaign on Local Charities Day were matched through funding from government and a philanthropist.
There are 160,000 voluntary sector organisations in the UK and the majority of these organisations are small, local charities.
However, whilst small charities represent 97% of the charitable sector, they only account for around 20% of its income.
Yet local charities are experiencing an escalating need for their services, with 81% of charities forecasting increased demand for their services in 2017.
And new research funded by Lloyds Bank Foundation reveals that small and medium-sized charities (with an income between £25,000 and £1m) have been hardest hit by cuts to public funding of the voluntary sector and that the damage will be most felt by vulnerable people in the local communities they serve.
Through its North East Fund, the Virgin Money Foundation has given grants to local charities, working at a neighbourhood level, including those supporting young people to gain employment.
We see how vital these charities are. They have unbeatable local knowledge and strong relationships with local employers. They also have the ability to connect with young people who, no longer in education, need support to overcome hurdles, encouragement to identify their skills and talents, as well as advice and guidance to apply for jobs and prepare for interviews.
One young woman told us how, having attended a programme run by Sunderland based Young Asian Voices, she had gained full time work and her confidence had grown.
We need more initiatives like Local Charities Day to increase the awareness of the vital work local charities do. They don’t always have strong brand awareness to help them bring in much needed funds, but they do have a track record of tireless work in the local communities in which we live and work.
Nancy Doyle, Executive Director