Steve Daunt explores how charities can avoid ending up in the news for all the wrong reasons
We are where we are. It’s a phrase that I loath to use but for one day only Undaunted is going down that route.
Charities - they have been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons again. We thought we had gone through the worst of it with REHAB and the CRC but events in Console are equally sad.
I’m not going to comment on the Console case specifically. Instead, I’m going to try and plot a way forward for our understanding of why we need charities. This is where the ‘WAWWA’ idea comes in.
As a person with a disability, I’ve seen the good and the not-so-good things charities do. We have all seen the amazing work that charities can achieve. We have also seen the chaos that occurs when things go wrong. I’ve also seen charities demean the experience of being disabled in their use of imagery, for example. The image of the ’helpless’ disabled person fuels the revenue stream of the charity rather than enhancing the lives of their ‘clients’. We will return to that little word later.
This is not to suggest that charities are entirely to blame for everything.
It is very obvious that the state can often see ‘farming out’ services in the hope that this would save it money. When things go wrong, the hope is the charity gets the flack from Joe Public. Joe Public subsequently forgets the state pays the charity and has responsibilities too.
That is how complicated the relationship between state and charities is. They need each other. So what follows are a few steps that I think might make the relationship better for everybody:
I hear people say that many of the activities that charities do should be taken back into the state. The reality is that this won’t happen. I’ve always thought of what would happen if charities/not-for-profits went on strike? Would the state be able to cope? Of course it wouldn’t.
The ‘mixed economy’ that is the Irish social care system isn’t going to change anytime soon. We are where we are. My three very modest proposals might bring a bit of clarity... Or maybe not.