By Tony Okotie, Chief Executive of Community and Voluntary Action Tameside

As an infrastructure organisation supporting local voluntary, community and faith groups in Tameside, here at CVAT we are seeing the widespread and serious impact of austerity on the sector. The groups we are working with are constantly reporting the increasing levels and complexity of the demands they face whilst funding is ever more stretched. This is of course something we ourselves recognise. Salami slicing and pushing to get more for less can only go so far. The critical challenges right now involve protecting the space for innovation, real community development/empowerment (a whole other blog there!), specialist services and commissioning that develops the sector in a sustainable way.

So haven’t we got more than enough to keep us occupied without adding our support for this campaign into the mix?

Speaking up for and with the sector is core to CVAT’s mission and vision. We want to make sure that the voices of so many inspiring organisations – and the people that they work with – are heard by decision makers whether at a local level (where most of our advocacy happens) or nationally where we can play our part. So it is vital we get behind broad and timely national campaigns like Back Britain’s Charities, and that we use the privilege of our role to encourage other groups to do the same.

Here are 5 good reasons we believe that it is important to support the 5 asks of the Back Britain’s Charities campaign:

1. The campaign strategy, of asking a range of audiences including charities, businesses and the public as well as government to take action has the potential to make a real impact.
2. Modernising and improving something already in place (Gift Aid and Payroll Giving) and something that the Government is already looking at changing is hard to oppose.
3. A mix of funding streams are being recognised (donations, grants and contracts), something all charities should consider in pursuing sustainability
4. Businesses need to be brought into this debate – and they are being. Tameside 4 Good is CVAT’s work on connecting the charity and business sectors locally and demonstrates how it can be practical, and easy for businesses to back Britain’s charities
5. Now is definitely a time to be pragmatic in our campaigns and backing Britain’s charities certainly is pragmatic.

Finding ways to protect the voice of the sector at this time is no small challenge. But this is a ready made opportunity to say something meaningful locally and connect to a national impact as well. As my favourite quote goes: ‘If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito!’