The significance of charity work for Brighton’s most vulnerable
In a climate of austerity, voluntary and community sector organisations are becoming increasingly vital for maintaining necessary support services in cities. The Brighton Journal acknowledges four very important projects that are making a positive impact on our community.
The Clock Tower Sanctuary
An increasing amount of young people are finding themselves homeless. This number is going up, but unfortunately the number of support services – which are essential for fair life chances- is going down as funding is cut.
As we all know, living on the streets can create life long damage, such as trauma and physical health difficulties. This damage often leads to further problems, including reduced life expectancy, exclusion from the workplace and a cycle of poverty. The Clock Tower Sanctuary in Brighton supports some of our cities most vulnerable young people to “prevent further decline, unlock their potential and get their lives back on track.”
“Music has helped me shape my identity and provided me with a rhythm to help me manage ADHD. I can better express myself with people after playing music, it calms me and there is a good connection between the group that has taken part as they have made music together and shared an experience. The workshops have also given me a skill I can take with me for the rest of my life – it is transportable, I can busk anywhere and I carry a picture inside myself that is about rhythm and music” – James, who attends regular music workshops
Last year, The Clock Tower Sanctuary saw an increase in the number of 16-18-year-olds attending the centre. The staff at the Sanctuary have reported that these young people are also experiencing greater levels of multiple complex needs, including poor mental, physical, psychological and emotional health, increased substance abuse, low levels of skill, little or no employment prospects and limited or no housing options. The Clock Tower Sanctuary works with over 50 organisations, but due to cuts in funding, they have already lost important services such as the Sexual Health Advice Service and the Mental Health Dual Diagnosis Support Service.
The Clock Tower website is available here
Inspire is a partnership which incorporates a number of agencies in Brighton, with the Women’s Centre at the lead, it offers holistic support to vulnerable women who have had a negative involvement with the Criminal Justice System. The project focuses on enabling these women to build resilience and trust through the forming and maintaining of positive relationships and helps women to address the range of structural challenges in their lives that have led to offending. It has seen hundreds of women change their lives through integrated support.
“It was so positive. She [caseworker] made me feel valued and safe to express myself …. She did not judge me and really listened. It’s a very caring approach.” – Inspire Project Service User
The Department for Communities and Local Government funded “Women’s Diversionary Project Cost Benefit analysis” (SQW 2018) shows that the Public Value return for an organisation like this can be extremely high. They noted a reduction of, domestic violence (36%), Mental health (16%), Reduced crime (16%), Reduced Drug Dependency (12%). These factors all contribute to individual and community well-being. Projects like Inspire that focus on a whole-person approach are essential to developing long term solutions.
The website for Inspire is available here.
Whitehawk Inn is a community learning hub that provides a wide range of services and support, focusing on the people living in Whitehawk area and the East of Brighton. They offer programmes for learning and development, facilities for internet access, printing and photocopying, a cafe, a garden and a space for group activities. There is no longer any funding for this work.
“the project is about working with people in a holistic way to develop and fulfil their aspirations for success, improving their lives and those of their families and the wider community.”
Statistics from the Take Account 4 Case Study show that between April 2018 and March 2019 4,951 visits were made to the Whitehawk in, by 1,154 different people. There were 523, information sessions, 30 different adult learning courses, regular community inclusion activities and 17 people in Routes Project (with 6 now in employment). The significance that this centre has had on the community has been huge. However, austerity and Public Sector funding cuts have impacted disproportionately on lifelong learning and adult education, and the future of the centre is now in the balance.
The website for The Whitehawk Inn is available here.
Brighton and Hove Food Partnership
The Brighton and Hove Food Partnership (BHFP) is a source of information and inspiration around food, that aims to address health inequalities, poverty, climate change and waste through a connection with and around food. The partnership supports hundreds of community projects, such as lunch clubs, food banks and gardens whilst also influencing the food purchasing behaviour of organisations and influencing policy. They also run the ‘Surplus Food Network’, which connects organisations that give food that would have been binned to vulnerable people.
In 2018 over 1090 tonnes of food was saved which equates to 4142 tonnes of carbon – the yearly energy use of 1534 homes (CITE)
The project is built upon the idea that food is a tool that can inspire and engage people, communities and organisations and can help with challenges relating to health, wellbeing, climate change and economic resilience. BHFP plays a critical role in improving peoples health and well-being in our city, as well as decreasing environmental impact. “Whilst the food system continues to cause big and growing problems, food is also a force for good.”
You can find out more about Brighton and Hove food partnership here.
The impact these groups have on individuals immediate and future life-chances is invaluable. On a societal level such organisations also contribute extensive environmental, economic and social value to a city.
At the core of these projects is community collaboration, activism, empowerment, diversity and inclusion. While public sector funding has decreased significantly, grassroots groups continue to have huge positive impacts on people’s day-to-day lives.
Nancy Platts, who is the Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council commented on the Take Account 4 Report:
“From grassroots community groups to medium and large voluntary organisations, they all play a critical role in the health and wellbeing of our residents, our environment and our city. This report is a timely reminder of just how important they are.”
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