The EU referendum, austerity budgets and the associated reassessment of whose responsibility it is to deliver different services and support has led to uncertain times for the voluntary sector, including Community Lincs. Our own annual grant from the County Council was pulled this year as a direct result of this turbulence and we have found it increasingly difficult to win funds from the Lottery and other trusts and foundations. This has added extra weight to our regular review of current delivery and plans for the future.
As a local charity we have reflected the needs of Lincolnshire’s communities for nearly 90 years. Our aim has always been to help local people to help themselves through advice, training, practical support and connection with the powers that be. This approach is very effective at creating confident people and connected communities and has led to all sorts of locally provided volunteer based services such as Good Neighbours’ Schemes, Community run swimming pools and hundreds of effectively run Community Buildings.
The feedback that we receive indicates that the people who use our services really value them and many are prepared to pay for our help, viewing us as a key professional service that can help them to achieve bigger and better things. This has been an important development for us, as the bulk purchase of our services by organisations such as the County Council stops, we need to look at other ways of funding them for example through our consultancy services.
However, we realise that there are some communities who are not in a position to do this and yet who still need the kind of support that we can provide to help improve quality of life for their friends and neighbours. To address this we often work in partnership with other organisations from the voluntary and public sector, bidding for funding to establish community based projects. One really good example of this is the T.E.D. project, a six year Big Lottery Funded project aimed at reducing isolation and loneliness in the over 50s of East Lindsey. Having six years of funding is enabling us to develop really strong local partnerships; it’s also given us the opportunity to commission local services that are genuinely reflective of local need, led by older people and unique to our geography.
We are now starting to see some amazing results from this project, including the number of new volunteers coming forward to help and the personal impact that their support is having on some very vulnerable individuals. I believe that the key to this success is the level of consultation and engagement that we undertook during the planning phase. We sent out thousands of surveys and interviewed over a hundred older people from across the district and form this we got a really clear idea of what was needed; which brings me back to our review of current delivery and future services. To be effective we need to target our support where it is most needed and reflect the key priorities identified by you our service users. Combining this with information about demographic trends, key economic drivers and Government investment priorities will help us to produce a sound business plan for the coming years.
With this in mind I would really encourage you to answer a few questions for us about your current knowledge of what we do and what you see as priorities for your community over the next few years. Just click this link and it will take you straight there.
If we can find a way to develop new services we will, if we need to form new partnerships we will and most of all, if we can make a difference to you and the quality of your life, we will.