Charities in Torbay should stick together after further service cuts

SADLY, no sooner was the ink drying on the newsprint of last week’s column when another much-needed charity announced cutbacks to its services.

As discussed in this column seven days ago, maintaining funding for the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector is as tough as it has ever been. Financial pressures are acute as the ongoing cost of living crisis continues to take its toll on organisations across the Bay.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but there is not enough money to go around and funding, whether it be from government, local government or other sources such as the national lottery and various grant-giving organisations, is becoming ever harder to find.

Scarce resources are shared, and some services are only delivered because of a combination of efforts from the statutory, voluntary, and charity sectors, which work together to eke out the funds available.

The Moorings Torquay announced,  on the very day this newspaper (the Herald Express, for those reading this on our Torbay Communities’ website) published this weekly column lamenting ongoing cuts across the sector,  that their daytime support pilot that they had been delivering was due to end by Friday 12 April 2024.

That is despite the pilot’s success in supporting 641 new service users, preventing 13 visits to overstretched hospital emergency departments and 20 calls to emergency services.

Furthermore, The Moorings, based at the Torbay Business Centre in Lymington Road, Torquay was proud to boast that after receiving support from the service, 2,004 visitors reported feeling less anxious and stressed and 1,826 people said they felt less isolated. Small consolation given that they were unable to continue because no one was prepared to fund it.

However, having said all that it is important to stress that after the 12th April, existing service users will still be able to call or drop into the Moorings from 6pm to midnight Monday to Friday and from midday to midnight at weekends. It is the daytime phone service currently offered during weekdays that will be closing. Outside of these existing hours, service users in crisis needing urgent care should call the First Response Service on 111 and then select the mental health option. Those requiring support during working hours and who are open to a community team should look to their care plan for the best number to call.

A similar pilot being run in Exeter offering phone support, face-to-face and group sessions on the Wonford House Hospital site has been extended for another 12 months, again showing that there is both a demand and a need and sadly whether you get the support is down to where you live which is of little consolation if the place you live is Torbay.

As noted in last week’s column, It is a nationwide issue, but here in the Bay, some of the pressures are even more acute, with statistics showing that we live in and alongside some communities that are struggling more than others.

Charities like ours are having to look to our own communities in the hope that some of the gaps can be plugged and rather than relying on funding from the government, local government or other sources such as the national lottery and various grant-giving organisations, we are looking to recruit an army of fundraisers.

Over the coming weeks and months, we will be announcing a series of fundraisers that we will need your help with as Torbay Communities looks to celebrate its tenth anniversary by attempting to secure our own financial security, without which we cannot continue to support Torbay communities that need us most.

We already feature more than 200 fundraising ideas on our website and we will be announcing how you can get involved in other initiatives, such as running the Torbay Half Marathon or Torbay 10k for us when the event returns to our streets on September 29th.

Alternatively, if walking is more your thing we will be launching a One Million Step Challenge – 500 miles in 100 days which will start on July 15th.

For more details about how to get involved and help us help our communities, drop an email to [email protected].

Remember, if you are affected by any of the cuts outlined above and need more advice or support, call the Torbay Community Helpline on 01803 446022.