On Monday 18th April 2016, The Steeple Church Dundee played host to a Hustings event for the Dundee’s Third Sector. Welcomed to the event were representatives from four of the local parties as well as representatives from approximately thirty Third Sector organisations and community groups. The Manifesto was introduced by Christine Lowden, Chief Executive of Dundee Voluntary Action and the topical Question and Answer session was chaired by the local hero, Stella Carrington , winner of Dundee’s Citizen of the Year 2015.
Voluntary Gateway Dundee, Dundee’s Third Sector Interface, has been working with a number of organisations over the last few months to identify and acknowledge the issues they face during uncertain times locally and nationally. Many organisations face cuts and pressure on resources at a time when demand is growing. No single organisation can counter every problem that the people in Dundee face. However, with the right support from the Government, we can work together to create a fairer society that we can all be proud of. Many of Dundee’s essential organisations will fail to thrive or fulfil their purpose if the Government does not deliver sufficient support.
The Manifesto highlights three significant areas where the Third Sector has an ‘ask’; Financing the Sector, Third Sector Representation and Local Investment.
Christine Lowden, Chief Executive of Dundee Voluntary Action says, “Voluntary organisations do valuable work in social care, homelessness, welfare rights, training for employment and social and cultural activities. They are held back by a culture of short term funding. If you know that your funding is only for a few months or a year, it’s hard to recruit and keep your staff. We believe that three year funding should be the norm for the public sector projects we carry out. That would give government far better value for money. Short term funding is deeply unfair to dedicated staff.”
The manifesto also calls for government investment in social care, welfare and employability to be channelled through local organizations. Susan Smith leads Dundee Social Enterprise Network. She says, “Our members create new businesses, provide jobs and plough the money we make back into the community. Some take on contracts for local and national government, and we want to play a full part in delivering the employability work being devolved to Holyrood. If government deals directly with local organizations like ours, we can put that investment to work in the most efficient way.”
Also highlighted is the contribution made by unpaid volunteers in Dundee. Kirsty Keay of Dundee’s Volunteer Centre says, “Nearly 40,000 people in Dundee give their time free of charge to voluntary activities. That makes a huge contribution to the quality of life in our city. So we are extending a warm invitation to our newly elected politicians to come and visit the voluntary sector and find out what we do. We want them to join with us to create jobs, tackle poverty and bring people together.”
Note for photo:
Panel from left to right: Bill Bowman (Scottish Conservatives Party), Christine Lowden (Dundee Voluntary Action), Richard McCready (Scottish Labour Party) Stella Carrington, Joe Fitzpatrick (Scottish National Party) and Maggie Chapman (Scottish Green Party)