It was with interest that I read an article entitled “There shouldn’t be any charities in 10 years time” from Will Horwitz in the Voluntary Sector Network blog. Like all good writing, the provocative headline hooked me into reading. Horwitz represents Community Links, a charity working in east London that runs youth clubs, back-to-work programmes and childrens’ schemes. He acknowledges the odd position charities find themselves in: if they do their jobs right and fulfil their mission statements, there will be no need for the charity to exist, having eventually worked themselves out of business. Regardless, Horowitz writes that any charity worth its salt will be putting steps in place in order to overcome and remove whatever challenges it faces.
He is, however, also aware that ten years is a short time to completely eradicate the reasons for which a charity has been set-up in the first place. With lobbying, a change in government policy, an injection of funding and a long-term strategy to tackle huge social and economic issues, we can believe that in ten years time social action charities might have reduced some of the need for their own existence. But can we think the same about health charities?
Although we know that there are many examples where new treatment and earlier diagnosis can transform the negative impact of diseases and improve prognosis, many of the conditions and diseases patients at The National face sadly will take longer than ten years to eradicate.
With this in mind, success for us isn’t just in stopping, halting and preventing: we know that the journey of research, development and testing to breakthrough is a long and difficult one. For a long time to come, there will always be work still to do. Sometimes that’s big and sometimes that’s small.
Our Small Acorns scheme is an ideal example of this. The projects have taken root and are going from strength to strength. Initiatives include the Thera-Bike that allows patients who have suffered traumatic brain injury to exercise and the Saebo-Hospital Kit that has helped stroke patients with upper limb impairment. The Pain Management Team is now able to offer different treatments to patients with chronic neuropathic pain and another project is launching an information film in British Sign Language with subtitles for deaf patients.
They might sound small initially but that’s the point: little changes can have huge impact.
We know that there will still be a need for our work in ten years time – and that’s not a bad thing. We appreciate the scale of the challenges we’re trying to overcome and we know they can’t be swept aside within a decade.
This year, we’re hoping to offer £30,000 of grants so please do consider making a donation here.