Our Chief Executive, Fabian French, shares his response to PM Theresa May’s speech to the Charity Commission on ‘shared society’.
Theresa May’s speech today was important for a number of reasons. Firstly, she chose to make her first major speech of the year to an audience of charity professionals at the Charity Commission. This speaks volumes about where we sit as a sector in her thinking.
Secondly, she spoke of her vision of a ‘shared society’. Where we all take responsibility for each other as well as businesses, charities and the Government. This marks a small but significant shift away from Cameron’s big society which more or less did away with the Government’s role.
And thirdly, it addressed a major issue that Community Foundations have been addressing over the past couple of years – mental health.
Every year, Community Foundations carry out a piece of research called ‘Vital Signs’, designed to uncover the problems communities are facing with a view to directing grants to local charities to help address these problems. Supporting people with mental health is a significant need that has surfaced through this research and has led Community Foundations to take action.
Take, for example, Leeds. The Community Foundation, supported by John Lewis, launched ‘The Leeds Fund’ last year, which enables individuals and businesses to contribute to their local community. The current focus of the fund is mental health, recognising that it’s an issue that affects one in four people in the UK. So far, Leeds Community Foundation have given out almost £200k in grants to local charities and groups that support people with mental health problems.
The Women’s Counselling and Therapy project is one such charity. It is the only women’s specialist therapy service in Leeds. They help women recover from the trauma of experiences such as rape, sexual exploitation, abuse and violence.
Charities like this that do such valuable work in the community are the ones that need support and I hope that some of the new money promised by the Prime Minister today will make its way to frontline, local charities that are playing such a key role.
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