Jane Holmes' Blog: Charities shouldn’t exist in order to let statutory service providers off the hookBy Hugh Fort
March 21, 2013
Jane Holmes is chief executive of Wokingham-based charity Building for the Future which provides support and activities for disabled children.
She set up the charity after her daughter Kitty was born with severe cerebral palsy.
Having been refused NHS funding for a powered wheelchair for my daughter, due to criteria stating she must magically be a competent driver before being eligible for one, we were urged to seek charity funding.
As I have run three charities myself over the years, I know it’s hard to raise funds, especially at the moment.
A lot of charities have folded over the last few years, especially those who employ paid staff.
Charities shouldn’t exist in order to let statutory service providers off the hook.
They should enhance that provision, not replace it.
But they do and so charities providing essential equipment are under more pressure than ever, while the statutory service providers can get away with applying impossible criteria to their funding.
Charities which raise money for a particular purpose obviously do so in the name of that purpose.
Admin costs and of course salary expenses mean that a comparatively small proportion of the money that is raised goes towards what it is actually being raised for.
So, applying to a charity for funding for equipment is not much easier than applying to the NHS, for example. Their decision making time can take months and the staff, who are surely being paid from the money raised, take their own sweet time to decide which child is successful and which isn’t.
Recently, after waiting two months for a decision from a particular charity, we were refused. Apparently they are overwhelmed by applications and there is not enough money to go round. With 91 staff members and no volunteers, I am not surprised.
And so it’s back to the drawing board.
Another application and another long wait during which our daughter could have been independent and isn’t. Another hope dashed.
So if there are any charitable trusts reading this, which raise money on behalf of disabled children but then refuse to grant it to some of them, please rethink your process.
Think about how much families struggle while they wait for your grand decision. Think of the children who are suffering and think of all those staff you pay.