The Big Society?

When I embarked on this journey of mine setting up a charity for grandparents who are denied contact with their grandchildren, I had no idea what the future was going to bring.

We were encouraged a couple of years ago by the powers that be that we all needed to become part of ‘The Big Society’ for communities to come together to help and support one another, seems such a good concept, a concept that in my view never really took off.

With that in mind you would think that setting up a charity would be something that you would get help with, but is it?

At the beginning we were a small charity with a constitution and trustees, which was fine and was appropriate at the time.

As we began to grow it was suggested that we became a registered charity.

To be registered gives the public confidence in you, a little bit like the British Safety Kite mark on things.

The down side is the enormous amount of work involved, reams of paperwork, hours spent doing accounts, planning meetings, ect.

For large charities, they employ staff to do all of the admin for them, for us it is down to us to do it all, it is a huge responsibility.

2015 was not a good year for charities with lots of very bad press, it was quite right that charities had to become even more transparent and accountable, if the public are supporting a charity financially or in other ways they must feel confidant and trust those in the charity.

Of course what it has meant is that the ‘red-tape’ has just continued to increase, as has the workload.

Sometimes I get so swamped I almost forget why we started this in the first place.

The fact that in 2007 we were denied contact with our grandchild, whom we love deeply. I once said if I ever lose sight of that its time to think again. I must hold on to that.

When deadlines have to be met, when the tax man needs informing, when reports have to be filed, I have to remember.

Setting up any charity, has its routes in someone wanting to help others, to raise awareness on certain things they are passionate about, sadly as I have seen so often as charities grow so the original aim and passion falls by the way side.

The business part becomes so difficult the actual help and support on a one to one level becomes increasingly hard, certainly for the smaller charities.

We have seen many charities amalgamating over the past few years, as government funding was withdrawn from many, it made sense to share skills and to join forces.

For me  it is the difference of being a group who have members at the heart of everything we do, the people we support come first, and to not let  the bureaucracy be all encompassing.

I applaud anyone who is running a small charity, they need encouragement and support, all they are trying to do is to assist others, to offer hope to others they are the true sense of a ‘Big Society.’




About Jane

Jane setup Bristol Grandparent Support Group in 2007 after a string of incidents led to the loss of contact with her Grand Daughter.

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