YEP Says (Oct 6): Was ‘big society’ pledge just an empty promise?

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THE announcement that Involve Yorkshire & Humber, the Leeds-based umbrella organisation for the voluntary sector, is to close plays into the hands of those who believe that the Government is taking the charity sector for granted and that Ministers do not understand the work carried out by such bodies.

Although no organisation, however worthy, can expect a blank cheque, Involve has been playing a key role in helping charities across Yorkshire meet an unprecedented public demand for their services. Over the last 15 years, Involve has provided training, advice and, most of all, a voice, for around 15,000 voluntary groups and community organisations across the region. It is, as one charity puts it, an“unsung hero”.

The voluntary sector in Yorkshire provides 86,000 full time jobs and contributes £1.62bn to the economy. Over the last six years, as funding the Government “drained away” Involve has shrunk from around 25 staff to eight, who will all lose their jobs when it closes next month. But Involve’s chief executive, Jane Hustwit, said the real effect will be felt by the many organisations that rely on it for support. There is every likelihood that charities will see their own management costs increase as a result of this decision, and costs will inevitably come at the expenses of the day-to-day services for people whose care and wellbeing has already been compromised by spending cuts. It can only be hoped that some of the expertise of Involve staff can continue to be utilised by the charity sector, and that the Government is amenable to any reasonable request for funding.

If not, many will see it as proof, once and for all, that David Cameron’s so-called ‘Big Society’ was an empty promise.

Cook up a Bake Off storm Nadiya!

We unashamedly admit we’re gripped by the comforting sweetness of The Great British Bake Off and entranced by the creations of our very own Nadiya Hussain, the Leeds mum who last week nervously stated she’d rather ‘have another baby’ than have to face again the stresses of a chocolate soufflé. Now she’s in the final. Go Nadiya, we’ve a feeling you’ll cook (sorry, bake) up a storm!