Never mind the ‘Big Society’, what about funding cutbacks?

I FEEL that I must speak with regard to the story in the Dispatch of February 17, which explained how Conservative MP Mark Spencer wanted Prime Minister David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ to come to Hucknall.

The government needs to support the voluntary organisations already up and running successfully, instead of bringing them to their knees by cutting the vital funding needed, especially in the case of vulnerable adults and people with learning disabilities.

What is the point of this ‘Big Society’ when voluntary organisations like the Hope Lea Project will be struggling to come to terms with the cutbacks in the funding that supports our work to provide a decent quality of life for our service-users, who are adults with learning disabilities?

A large part of our work is the fundraising, which provides all the important and necessary extras needed to give a good service. But we cannot rely on fundraising money to pay staff wages and all other costs incurred in running a successful project like Hope Lea.

The talk of changes affecting the service has been going on for several years and then, suddenly, changes have arrived with no thought for the vulnerable people we care for and with such chaos to everyone, we scarcely know what to do about it all.

The ‘Big Society’ and Mark Spencer would do well to look at the Hope Lea Project and its loyal voluntary management committee and other volunteers who work for no reward, except that of the satisfaction of caring for vulnerable people.

We have numerous volunteers who help at coffee mornings, garden parties and fairs and give their time freely and with a good heart.

Hope Lea was not developed overnight. It has taken 28 years of volunteering to get where we are — and not forgetting the help of an excellent staff team.

I work almost full time, with the support of the committee. It is a responsibility and huge commitment to be a volunteer in these times of change and bureaucracy. There are so many rules and regulations, strategies and White Papers, which have all been a waste of time and money. Most have been ditched and are still in the bottom drawer.

We have found that commitment and hard work are no longer a priority in the world today. When I wrote to the Prime Minister last September, expressing our concerns regarding the changes, I was told to forward my letter and petition to the local council, which I did on October 1. I am still waiting for an acknowledgement.

JUDITH STOREY, MBE,

Managing Director,

Hucknall Hope Lea Project Ltd.