Report of the Chair
Year ended 31 March 2016
Since the recession and the programme of austerity started, we have talked each year about the challenges and funding uncertainty that we have faced, and how we manage this against meeting rising need for the services we provide. This last year was, however, the most pronounced example that we have had so far of this tension.
In the previous financial year, we had begun to ask some very serious questions about our future and our role in the changing political and economic environment. We were very clear that our charity provided services to meet needs in Devon that would not otherwise be met, and that our staff ethos of persistence, creativity and the willingness to go above and beyond expectations supported many vulnerable, disadvantaged and excluded people to begin to reshape and take control of their lives. However, it was equally clear that some of our services, such as our Community Advice & Support Service, would no longer be commissioned because of changes in procurement approach. As a result, we focused during 2015-16 on securing new funding for Nightstop and Bay6, our homeless hospital discharge service, and on our offender resettlement work.
We were successful in securing new funding for Bay6 and for Nightstop, and obtained funding to deliver a one year pilot resettlement and housing advice service, in partnership with St Petrocks, for offenders and ex-offenders in Exeter and Torbay.
In addition, the Lloyds Foundation for England & Wales awarded a two year grant supporting our core costs, and through the Big Potential grant, we were able to start exploring social investment models for our projects, to understand the potential for future income streams. The review of our services and funding models to meet the challenges of our operating environment and the changing needs of clients continues to be a high priority and work in progress.
We are grateful for the commitment of our funders and for ad hoc grants and donations from generous, altruistic organisations and individuals. Thanks to this generosity young people in need were provided with much needed accommodation for 458 bednights.
Of the funding successes, Comic Relief and the Lloyds Foundation provided funding beyond one year, which highlights the problems that exist for small charities such as ours in achieving sustainability. At the time of writing, we are still waiting for confirmation of continuation funding for a project that was originally assured before Christmas 2015. This means that our valuable resources that could be used to innovate, develop and expand projects to meet the increasingly complex needs of people who are struggling in our low wage, low benefit, low support environment, instead are directed to securing and maintaining commissioned services. Effectively, the price of that demand on our limited resources is paid by those with whom we work.
Our experience is not atypical, and is replicated across the country. Our society is more unequal now than it has been since the creation of the welfare state, and as state provision continues to shrink, the need for voluntary organisations has rarely been greater, to identify the gaps in provision, to be creative in finding resources and to innovate to provide support for all those who are disadvantaged in today’s world. We remain committed to working to address the inequalities and barriers faced by those who find themselves without a home, and to finding lasting solutions.
Last but not least I would like to record my gratitude and appreciation of the hard work, dedication and patience of our staff during challenging times, for the commitment and contribution of fellow trustees, and for the continued generosity and commitment of our volunteer Nightstop hosts and drivers.