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‘Spend pennies now to save pounds later’ was Kids CEO Katie Ghose’s main message to the NPC Ignites event earlier this week.
Katie joined a panel event hosted by the social sector think tank and consultancy NPC to debate the current big themes facing charity and society.
Sharing a panel with Mind, The Cowshed, Trust for London, The Carers Trust and Trussell Trust, Katie talked about what the charity sector can do to adapt to the unprecedented economic change we are currently facing.
Katie described how by working together we can change how services are commissioned; how we can make the most compelling case to spend pennies now to avoid spending pounds later and how we can collaborate on services as well as on campaigns to make a real difference.
The government should recognise and resource essential services that disabled children need to thrive, but right now the funds aren’t in the right places, and the trajectory is set to get worse. So we have to be creative and find other ways of funding and delivering our missions.
Katie said there are three ways the sector can adapt.
Charities providing public services have a sustainability crisis. But we can make change happen by coming together. Specifically, commissioners should open up their doors and support collaboration among providers. Cut-throat competition serves no one, least of all disabled children and families. It is important too for commissioners to recognise the added value provided by voluntary sector providers and what is lost when we are gone. When we are commissioned to provide a home learning service for example, we also provide wrap around support for the parent; a listening ear; providing tools and tips; or support with forms to secure social security benefits.
It is well known that the first 1000 days of a child’s life is pivotal to their healthy development.
Spending a small amount on Special Educational Needs (SEN) support for a 2-year-old now, will ultimately save costs down the line, for example by increasing their chances of accessing mainstream (or other appropriate) provision aged 5. We know this from our experience as an early years provider; we run nurseries, home learning and groups. Community services and education go hand in hand and why government plans and budgets for SEND can’t only focus on education – they have to support and resource the community provision, the preventative provision that enables disabled children and young people to access and stay in education and to thrive in their local communities.
As a sector, we must pool our evidence and make a compelling case for spending small sums early on to avoid heavy costs later.
The Digital Services Consortium is an alliance of 12 charities, founded by Kids and Sense two years ago – who work with disabled or seriously ill children and young people in the UK – a positive partnership working on a pressing issue and seeking funds together. We have designed a digital inclusion programme that will see us working together to open up digital services opportunities for up to 20,000 disabled children and young people in England: kit, skills, a live opportunity to use a digital service and then to feed back to our organisations to inform future service design. It’s a great example of collaboration and we’re inviting funders to get on board and collaborate to make it happen.
NPC Ignites was a great opportunity for Kids to talk with other organisations cross the third sector. Charities, foundations, philanthropists, impact investors, social enterprises, corporates, and the public sector all debated how to maximise social impact in the lives of the people they serve.