Minister agrees to visit Brighton

Posted On 28 Jul 2010 at 10:08 pm

A government minister has agreed to visit Brighton to learn more about Community Base.

Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, has yet to set a date to come to the premises in Queen’s Road.

But the Conservative minister met representatives from some of the 27 charities based there and heard that it could be described as the “big society” in one building.

The “big society” is David Cameron’s big idea to empower volunteers and the charitable sector. At the same time it is expected to reduce the size of the state and the amount spent by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government.

Mr Hurd agreed to visit Community Base after the Green MP Caroline Lucas led a delegation of charities and community groups to Whitehall.

The groups all work out of the Queen’s Road building which is in her Brighton Pavilion constituency.

Members of the delegation expressed their concerns about the future of frontline services.

The delegation consisted of Mark Walker, of the SCIP community IT project, Michelle Bridgman and Rory Smith, from the Gender Trust, Liz Hall, of Carousel, Sarah Bourne, of Brighton and Hove Volunteers, Lucy Stone, from Rhythmix, Colin Holden, of the East Sussex Credit Union, Carl McAdam, from Amaze, Jane Frost, from Assert, Jennifer Redman, of Cruse, Colin Chalmers, of Community Base, and Umit Ozturk, from the Mediterranean Resources Network.

Emma Daniel, of the Community and Voluntary Sector Forum, also went along with Ms Lucas, who sought the meeting after attending a discussion at Community Base’s open day on Monday 5 July.

During the discussion, frontline groups from across Brighton and Hove expressed concern about the effects that government cuts would have on the most vulnerable members of society.

Everyone at the meeting with the minister had a chance to talk to him.

He acknowledged that there were gaps in services for people with learning disabilities, people with mental health issues and others.

But, he said, funding cuts were coming.

Mr Hurd said that the present funding crisis presented a fantastic opportunity to do things differently and that big changes could be expected by the end of the year.

Colin Chalmers, the director of Community Base, said: “If the big society is about grassroots groups helping those most in need, providing cost-effective services without unnecessary bureaucracy and responding to people’s needs instead of top-down directives, then Community Base is the big society in one building.

“The groups who went to London, along with hundreds of other frontline charities and community organisations across Brighton and Hove, provide incredibly cost-effective, much needed services – but are very concerned about the future of these services if cuts are made without thinking through the impact they will have.”

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