Blog: Charities are the lifeblood of our city

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Polly Allen
Friday, 1 February, 2019


Blog written by Sandy Hore-Ruthven, former Chair of Trustees at Voscur

Meg and Adibah started Safe Space last year as a support group for refugees and asylum seekers who have suffered sexual violence. Their passion came from experience and a desire to make a difference – improving the lives of people in Bristol.

Charities like Safe Space are the lifeblood of the city. They look after the most vulnerable in an emergency, provide beds for the night, get people to their doctors and provide food when it’s needed, but so much more than that, too.

These organisations provide opportunities for young people who wouldn’t otherwise have had them, they protect and look after our parks, and provide a voice for the voiceless in our democracy. In fact, in every corner of Bristol you will find volunteers aiming to make their communities a better place; we forget at our peril how important they are to the fabric of our city.

But running a charity isn’t easy. There are funds to be raised, there is money to be managed and there are trustees to be found. And that’s only the beginning.

As charities grow, just like any business there are staff to be recruited, buildings to be maintained and volunteers to be supported. What's more, some of our most innovative charities like Southmead Development Trust, Knowle West Media Centre and Bristol Community Transport have taken their work a step further and are building houses, running buses and supporting tech start-ups in deprived areas.

I have had the privilege of being the chair of an organisation that sits at the heart of charities in Bristol. I stood down after 5 years on the board at its AGM last night. Voscur exists to help startup charities like Safe Space and large charities like Southmead Development Trust to run better. Help with fundraising, governance, money management and making sure the charity sector as a whole has a voice at the highest levels of decision-making.

Like a trade body it works largely behind the scenes, but without it many of the city's charities would not be able to achieve what they do. Last year Voscur supported 422 charities, helped raise £5.6m, provided training for over 800 people, and its network of advocates made sure charities had a voice in everything from NHS strategy and tackling youth violence to libraries and housebuilding.

Whilst our national politicians argue amongst each other, we would do well to remember how peace and tolerance are built in our communities. It is built by those who are willing to reach out to others, understand and help them. With each visit to a neighbour, each meal cooked in a community and every event held in the church hall these people build understanding between those who are different to us.

These thousands of small acts of kindness weave a strong fabric that keeps our society strong. Voscur sits at the heart of this incredible network of people and ideas, keeping it strong for all our sakes.

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