HOW HAS THE COST OF LIVING CRISIS AFFECTED TORBAY’S CHARITIES AND GROUPS?

By Matt Saunders, Marketing & Communications Assistant

 

As the impact of the Cost-of-Living Crisis continues to hit society at all levels, we are all trying our utmost to cut costs, be it through alternative products or services, financial advice, or new/additional sources of income.

Sadly, this has complicated matters further, as it has meant Torbay residents are not alone in feeling the pinch – many of the charities, services, and groups that always go above and beyond to help them (as has been clearly demonstrated during the pandemic alone) are likewise in a dilemma of how to continue functioning with belts having to be tightened.

In response to this, a survey has been sent to all Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) groups and charities in Torbay, for their input on how rising costs have (or possibly haven’t in some cases) affected them and those they support.

In an effort to form a snapshot impression of how groups and charities are impacted, Torbay Community Development Trust (TCDT) has sent out an online survey for representatives of any of these entities to have their say, with the aim of informing potential funding and resources/aid to benefit the VCSE community and their service users.

Early indications from some who have already begun filling in the survey show particular concern for fundraising income, running costs of facilities, and service delivery, with many expressing uncertainty as to whether they may have to resort to cutting back on services they can provide.

Such uncertainty alone as to whether groups can continue to make the necessary income to provide services, could be dangerously detrimental to the community, yet combined with fears of these services not being able to afford the necessary facilities or utilities paint a far more troubling picture.

The toll on the mental and physical health of their beneficiaries is also one of the biggest worries facing those completing the survey, along with their ability to afford access to services, or even afford travel to said services.

Needless to say, with their service users experiencing a worse toll on their health (both mentally and physically), demand for services will no doubt rise, and again add another complex layer onto an already overstretched sector. With this and users struggling to pay for services/access (where necessary) a lot of factors are mixing together to create a complex mess for groups and organisations to unpick.

Recent news of local groups having to close due to insurmountable financial pressures is an ominous sign of what may, unfortunately, come to pass for even more groups and organisations locally, if sufficient support cannot be provided.

It is a truly worrying thought, that so many devasting dominos are lining up, to cause further havoc if large parts of the VCSE sector begin collapsing due to financial pressures. It begs the question – how much longer before the final domino is in place before it triggers a wave of further chaos on top of the numerous crises we’ve experienced in recent times? Or is this a redundant metaphor, as so much damage has already been done?

Colour me pessimistic, as a few of those who’ve filled in the survey have admitted they’re yet to feel the brunt of the Cost-of-Living Crisis, so perhaps things could be worse, but let’s not tempt fate. Hence why we need the input of anyone representing groups, charities and services bay-wide to paint a clearer picture.

Tracey Cabache, Director of the TCDT, says ‘We are calling on all groups to share their situation as we go into this difficult period. We need to support our voluntary sector at this time when they are needed most.’

Results of the survey – which will now remain open until the New Year, will be shared with funders and MPs, to help identify areas for urgent support, as well as short-term and long-term funding.

To participate in the survey, go to: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/99NDS2S

Closed sign photo courtesy of Freepik.com

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