Need shows we are far from ‘all in it together’

THANKS to a survey, we now know what an incredible asset these islands have in their third sectors. Existing in plain sight, but their reach and importance often under-recognised, these charities quietly play an essential role in keeping Guernsey Together.

A sense of the work they do is provided by the extraordinary amount of money islanders contribute to them – £22m. in Guernsey alone and £77m. across the three Crown Dependencies.

Although some caution needs to be exercised with these estimates, that is equivalent to £420 per adult in this island and a vivid illustration that charity really does begin at home.

Island Global Research’s latest study, unsurprisingly, reflects the impact of Covid on giving and, especially, the time people have been able to devote to helping others, but it is largely a positive picture.

It is also, however, worrying.

On the basis charities exist only in areas where there is need, it is clear there is a large demand for assistance that islanders either cannot provide for themselves or are not receiving from government. And as the chair of the Association of Guernsey Charities notes, there are concerns post-Covid about how successfully some organisations will be able to meet demand this year.

That too is worrying. Especially when we learn that last year just over a quarter of those responding had themselves, or their close family or friends, benefited from the third sector last year. Across the community, that is a disturbing demand for assistance and one that is largely unchanged from two years ago.

While not all of the help given is welfare-based, much is. It includes support for the elderly, child services, food banks and advice for citizens and covers 10 monitored areas. This shows the island is far from achieving the inclusive, all in it together community status to which it aspires.

It is also further evidence of the need for government and the third sector to work in a proper partnership and to develop the services provided by charities. The survey’s main message is that taxpayer money in the hands of voluntary organisations can achieve far more than the States alone.

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