Charity chief warns Cameron, "Sticking to your guns on Big Society will blast a hole in services for sick children"

For immediate release, Monday 14 February

Charity chief warns Cameron,

“Sticking to your guns on Big Society will blast a hole in services for sick children”

Anne Keatley-Clarke, Chief Executive of the Children’s Heart Federation, is warning today that by pushing ahead with his plans for the Big Society, without a proper impact assessment of the implications for the voluntary and community sector, David Cameron will cause serious harm to thousands of vulnerable people, including children with a heart defect.

Ms Keatley-Clarke asserts,

“I admire drive and conviction, but in policy-making it needs to be backed by a detailed understanding of the area marked for change, otherwise it is merely bullishness. By sticking to his guns to push through with the Big Society concept, while brushing off the concerns of practitioners who know the voluntary sector from the inside, David Cameron risks blowing a massive hole in the delicate ecology of not-for-profit service delivery.”

Children’s Heart Federation (CHF) is an umbrella organisation for 21 charities that support children with congenital and acquired heart conditions and their families. CHF provides a range of services including donating home blood-testing equipment to keep medication levels safe and giving grants to enable parents to stay with their children during extended stays for surgery.

“We’re a medium sized charity getting seriously squeezed financially,” explains Ms Keatley-Clarke. “As contract changes hit larger charities, they are turning their income generation teams to draw in funding from grant-making trusts that have been appropriate sources of funding for us in the past. The third sector is already highly competitive – and very interconnected. Some of the largest charities, as well as public sector commissioners, recognise that smaller charities can be closer to the end beneficiary, more attuned to them as consumers of services and, therefore, better at delivering.”

If recent polls are right, a third of people are not interested in volunteering and a third say they do not have the time.

“We’re located on the edge of the City,” explains Keatley-Clarke, “rather than going after people who feel no motivation to volunteer, we’d like the government to help create the conditions whereby the third who are too busy and the 10 per cent who want to volunteer, are freed up to do so. We can always find creative opportunities for bankers to give something back to society!”


Notes for editors:

  1. The Children`s Heart Federation (CHF) is the leading UK charity working for families of children with heart conditions. CHF is an umbrella body with 21 member organisations that support children and young people with heart defects from birth or acquired in childhood and their families in the UK and Ireland.
  2. CHF provides information and support through its freephone helpline 0808 808 5000, open Monday to Friday and its website
  3. YouGov polls of 31 January and 13 February 2011 gauged the public’s response to Big Society and volunteering.

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