Rachael Maskell MP writes for Charity Today
“What will you be doing?” UK Charity Week‘s call is more poignant this year. Armies of volunteers have reached further and deeper into our communities as UK charities have drawn on all their resources to be innovative and responsive to match the breadth of need challenging our nation.
Where state interventions have ended, it is charities which have delivered unprecedented support to meet every need imaginable. It is what the sector does, but now without 9 months of fun runs, skydives, cake stalls and Christmas balls, the call for support rings loud.
Despite every obstacle, the public has been phenomenal in supporting their local organisations and national concerns. Such generosity has moved us all throughout this season, while Capt. Tom’s solo efforts have moved our hearts.
Civil society in the UK is unique in its inclusive altruism that enables everyone to contribute and benefit. It seamlessly blends with the state, while continuously morphing itself to fill gaps left, meet new challenges while simultaneously never relenting from its continuous service to the public.
Its dual expression of wrapping itself tightly around vulnerability is contrasted with its passionate advocacy for reform. Without civil society, society itself would stagnate and crumble. The sector is the bond that holds us together and takes us forward.
Labour values the sector as it replicates the values of our Party. While protecting those most challenged, we also seek to advance every opportunity to build a fairer, more compassionate society. Our legacy demonstrates how the sector has shaped our thinking and responses to the issues of the day and has caused us to advocate for justice and equality.
UK Charities Week gives us that opportunity to strengthen that bond, through our giving of time and resources. At a time when charities have been #NeverMoreNeeded, as we witness in response to this pandemic, we also know it is #NeverMoreInNeed.
The question “What will you be doing?” cannot, therefore, just be rhetorical or one to challenge the public alone, but must also be one laid at the heart of Government.
Warm words of celebration or praise will not be sufficient this year. A resolution must be found to address the acute funding shortages across the sector. Time needs to be provided to listen and respond to the concerns that charities are placing at the foot of Government. Security needs providing, protection granting and space given to forming a new relationship in this new era we are emerging into.
Investment in community and voluntary organisations must be the undertaking of both public and state, space where civil society unites as all will gain from such endeavours.
UK Charities Week shines a spotlight on both need and resolve. At the start of this season of giving, it is there to remind us that we are all connected and have a part to play in supporting those most in need.
Rachael Maskell MP is a British Labour Co-operative politician serving as Shadow Minister for the Voluntary Sector and Charities. She has served as Member of Parliament for York Central since 2015.