Voyage Voices

Voyage Voices

How do we ensure organisational survival during and post lock down?

As someone with considerable experience running and sustaining charities for over 20 years I must say that I have become deeply concerned about how organisations like us will survive post the COVID19 pandemic. I have become a little confused about how we should explore the continuation our services (during and post lockdown) and how this could affect the vulnerable young people (13- 21 years) we work with. I ask this question as Voyage typically:

* engages young people through centre based, referral and outreach work in the community.
* relies on a mix of trust, foundations and donations for funding its work
* relies on working with proffessionals who often work in front line services as a main day job
* works with some of the most disadvantaged (but amazing, gifted and talented) under 21s in north east London

These factors alongside how to respond if there are other outbreaks in the future are forming more serious conversations with my staff, my board of trustees and ultimately with our beneficiaries. Now I wish to open this up to other leaders in a similar position.

Just when I thought these considerations are for our charity, I got a big shock after reading about the Charity so White campaign and realising this is not just a worry for us but also a equally an issue for the entire BAME charitable sector.

I was grateful to read @charitysowhite are now meeting key funders and asking important questions and so far they have found that funders:

* Actions to date are not matching urgency of the situation, with 9/10 BAME VCS organisations set to close in the next 3 months.
* Surface level action such as better marketing of funds will not suffice. In the long term issues of power and trust need to be addressed, in the immediate response we call for ringfencing and decision making led by BAME infrastructure to deal with these issues.
* The importance of monitoring where funds are going through race equality data – specifically looking at leadership & governance, whether funds are going to BAME-led organisations, not just organisations claiming to work with these communities.

These crucial sustainability factors mixed with real questions about how we should carry out our work in communities when:

* many key funders are redirecting funds to support COVID19 affected communities
* youth organisations maybe ill equipped to facilitate social distancing and handing our PPE
* many of our very own young people will have families suffering from the pandemic both here in the UK and abroad in motherland countries and may need alternative forms of support embedded into their services

These factors forced me to send a distress call out to other bame led youth organisations (on linkedIn) to explore these questions and more to hopefully bring some of us together to discuss strategies that reduce our chances of closing down. I got a huge response and as a result I hope to be joined by a number of CEOs, COO’s and chairs from youth charities to discuss. I look forward to these discussions and presenting the outcomes to anyone interested.

I intend to get out there (on my bike) to visit some of these London based youth charities and find out how they are doing and somehow link the feed back to a report I will inevitably produce in a few months time.

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