A Hoop Too Far

6th December 2013

Inside Pan

Pan builds its projects from the ground up, developing projects that use arts for social change techniques to address the social needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable young people to live more positive futures.

We've been delighted that the complex issues of disadvantaged, vulnerable young people, have been given such great media coverage over the past few months through the Evening Standard's Frontline London Campaign. To hear that the daily struggles people like our participants face are being heard by the public and even an MP listening to them, has been encouraging. We were delighted that Camila Batmanghelidjh put the point straight. It is about money. No charity can hope to really make a lasting difference in the lives of young people who have such complex needs without the resources to be able to meet complex need. 
The young people we work with at Pan need regular meetings, consistent leaders who have built a relationship with them and a safe space to chill-out and express themselves freely. Working to change the lives of vulnerable young people takes time. It is not something that can be done in a set amount of time. It requires patience and complex support. Pan's Synergy report confirms how much time this takes and the sort of complex issues we are dealing with. This cannot be done effectively with only one year of funding. 
When we heard about the Cabinet Office Fund offering 2 million pounds to charities using social action to change the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, we thought this was perfect for Pan and set about applying. 
But what we found was that the fund would only pay for social activities that are directly delivered by volunteers. They pay for volunteer training, a project manager/volunteer manager to deal with logistics, but not to be in any of the sessions. No professionally trained, paid position will be funded to supervise direct social action delivery.
Is this what Camilla meant when she asked for money from the government? 
How wonderful to be giving volunteers the tools to help vulnerable young people. But unsupervised, with no paid professional present? 
We love volunteers at Pan. Volunteers are massively valuable to all charities. But volunteers cannot be asked to commit to a long-term project, to give the commitment and on-going support to vulnerable young people who require consistency. Who deserve consistency! 
Is this the vision of the Big Society, where trained professionals cannot be paid for complex, in-depth, consistent work with those most vulnerable in it? 
We decided here at Pan that this fund does not sit within our policies for our programmes. And so the search for fitting funds goes on... 
Till next time, 

(Development Officer at Pan)

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