Importance of Community and Voluntary Orgs

Who Cares? event

Comments from Lisburn Discussion Event:

  • The community/voluntary sector provide many good services that could be considered social care. But their funding always seems to be precarious – not enough and not long term enough. If they are providing care they should be funded appropriately as they are really doing part of the Dept of Health’s job.
  • Fitness for older people is very important; social care should put more emphasis on this. Currently it is really only community/voluntary organizations who engage in this type of social care but it should be given much higher priority and funding as it is so important.
  • Community/voluntary groups provide some really excellent services but all are in danger of having to close and are living always on the edge. Their funding streams are poor and always short term. Services are oversold and they often have to turn people away when they know they could benefit, just because they don’t have enough money. This is part of good social care. The government should properly fund these types of organizations that help keep people active, involved and healthy. Lottery funding keeps many groups going but it is difficult to access – since these often small groups are doing the government’s job they should be provided with better assistance in development of good funding applications.
  • Participants told how difficult it is now to get funding for their various groups, and how the value and importance of these groups in keeping people fit and well is underestimated
  • The community/voluntary sector provides excellent care, especially in regard to prevention. These small groups must be funded adequately if they are to be able to continue.
  • Older peoples groups are valuable to promote activities and sign post to other services. These groups need more funding
  • Community/voluntary sector currently provide a lot of good services and often free eg befriending. How are they funded though? Should not the government be providing more regular, longer term funding to ensure these programmes can continue to operate?
  • All of this group expressed the need to invest in prevention (defined as being social activities provided by the community and voluntary sector), and the responsibility of the local councils to fund local groups.
  • The socially isolated need the assistance that comes from community and voluntary groups, but those groups need to be funded sustainability. It is well and good to have befriending schemes but what happens when the funding finishes will the clients and the volunteers just be abandoned – who will take responsibility?
  • Good models of practice in the community and voluntary sector/ partnership working should be funded more.

Comments from the Omagh Discussion Event

  • There is a part to play for volunteers who can build up relationships with the people they are helping. Community/Voluntary groups are great at this.
  • People in the statutory sector should be educated about what services are available in the community/ voluntary sector and vice versa
  • Role of community and voluntary sectors were seen to be important providing connections, inputs, advocacy, obtaining funding etc.
  • Funding should be given for health and well being activities as well as investment within the community and voluntary sectors.
  • There is a lack of funding and continuity of funding for local community groups that could relieve a lot of the issues people struggle with e.g.: social isolation#
  • Funding for Community/Voluntary Groups– so many hoops to jump through and forms are difficult and time consuming and they ask the same question in 10 different formats. It also depend on the ability of the group to fill in successful funding applications
  • Sometimes the groups get referrals for very isolated older people or they are signposted to groups, but often those who are most isolated are completely missed.
  • Befriending and good morning services need to be maintained for the longer term not bits and pieces of short term funding.
  • Recognition the low level interventions like tea dances/social opportunities/luncheon clubs etc. make a big difference to someone’s life in terms of isolation, keeping connected etc.
Age NI Advice Line:
0808 808 7575

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