Worthing and Adur voluntary groups under threat

Adur Voluntary Action (AVA) thanks the Shoreham Herald for their balanced, accurate and well-written report about a complex issue (‘Charity facing uphill survival battle’, January 14).

Your report will arouse deep concerns among people who have benefited from, or contributed to, these two charities’ community activities over more than 80 combined years.

Their contributions to community and personal well being are often discreet, untrumpeted by the fashionable fanfares of publicity accompanying modern marketing. Voluntary Action Worthing and Adur Voluntary Action have focussed upon doing, rather than shouting.

Volunteers and paid staff enter charity work not to engage in a welter of competition with colleagues in their own and adjacent areas, but to express an ethos of intelligent, sensible co-operation.

The tendering process embarked upon by Adur and Worthing councils, awarded shaky proxy support by West Sussex County Council, is anything but this. It imposes a competitive culture spuriously legitimated by appeals to “best value” or “efficient use of public funds”, with the ghosts of some long-dead economists factored in for good measure.

AVA challenges these local authorities to prove that allocation of their funding to support voluntary action and personal volunteering to an organisation not part of the Adur community represents a planned, long term investment in our community wellbeing.

Adur Voluntary Action is a part of our community, owned and controlled by people with good local knowledge, here for the long haul, directly accountable and speaking up for residents and groups. It will remain so regardless of the short-term vagaries of public sector funding, or any other state policies.

That’s what civil society is all about. Is it not sad that our local elected representatives, good people many, whom we know and respect, appear not to have taken the time to look sufficiently deeply to have grasped what is taking place behind many of their backs?

Or maybe this a carpet beneath which they have been warned firmly (but of course, perfectly legally) not to peer?

AVA is sure that Shoreham Herald’s Readers’ Letters column is open to receive readers’ views.

Also, people can post on Adur Voluntary Action’s Facebook Page, or use Twitter @AdurVA. It is of course open to all local ratepayers to write to their Adur District and West Sussex Councillors (contact details available from AVA offices).

People might also contact the Chief Executive of Adur and Worthing Councils, the Leader of West Sussex County Council, Leaders of Adur and Worthing Councils, or our MPs Tim Loughton and Sir Peter Bottomley.

Adrian Barritt

AVA Chief Officer

on behalf of the Board of Trustees

AVA

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