Last week seventy people came to our regular community garden drop in days which are open to everyone two days a week for 50 weeks of the year. Some were local residents, students on placements and one refugee but the majority were people with learning disabilities. And all of them have talked about services being cut, centres being shut, benefit forms getting more complicated and general support ebbing away. One of our volunteers works for the council finding placements for people with disabilities and mental health issues. This service is also being scaled back, but if people are left to stew at home, then bigger more expensive problems will surface down the line.
We are only a small charity and our primary aim is to offer pupils struggling in the classroom an alternative education. The work with people with disabilities has evolved and we pride ourselves on being a place where anyone can come and volunteer for a hot meal, a cup of tea and a biscuit but most importantly a sense of being part of something. As well as the workdays, we organise socials and a user group meeting to find out how we can improve. Many of the people with disabilities want paid jobs but they are very hard to come by.
Charities are finding more need for their services and less money to pay for them. A look at the Brighton Argus one day last week, and half the paper was full of stories of people fundraising or charities looking for ways to fundraise. Grant funding is getting more competitive and is really tough if you want funding for the stuff you do every day while the media is full of stories that question charities work.
For us, this spike in use, might increase costs in a small way like buying more tea and coffee to keep everyone warm on a cold winters day or bigger things like employing an extra person to show people how to cook – but we never want to turn people away because of a lack of resources.
So when we ask you to stick your hands in your pockets to support us we can understand donor fatigue. But a small monthly standing order really will make a difference. It wont go on a shiny new office because we haven’t got one. Or an advertising budget because we haven’t got one. It will go on wages, because people have bills to pay and boring stuff like insurance, because without it we can’t open.
If you want to see what your financial support could do, then come up to one of our workdays or our open day on Friday 8th July. We might even make you a cup of tea.
Showing off our biggest ever pumpkins with some of the lads who grew them
Cooking scones for afternoon tea
Matthew picks Heritage tomatoes for lunch
Worst Christmas jumper competition (Michael won; his lit up)