At Pen Green the core purpose of all our work is breaking down barriers to access for people across our community who may be vulnerable or socially isolated. We have understood the importance of feeling included and valued since opening the Centre in 1983 and know that being truly included enables social cohesion, promotes well-being and enhances life chances through the generations.
Recent, and ongoing, budget cuts have presented a number of challenges in the affordability of the extra-curricula activities that we know contribute to the provision of the best possible start for children and their families.
I sit on the Fundraising Board within the Centre, demand for fundraising, grants and other funding streams is high as passionate and committed staff try to grapple with the changes in the economic climate alongside the desire to maintain an outstanding service for all the children in Corby.
Whilst core funding remains there are many areas of the Centre where further investments are needed; the garden areas, the mud kitchens, drop-in spaces and making the whole site more accessible for people with a disability. At times of economic decline celebratory events are often first to become unaffordable, staff are rightly concerned about the cost of running events over the Christmas period. The community Christmas dinner is an event that we have run for a number of years and has been very popular and well received. The community Christmas dinner has previously offered a positive experience to the children and families in our community, many of whom would otherwise be isolated. I attended last year and was blown away, not just by the amount of people that attended but by how much this event meant to them and the true feeling of the community coming together.
It is easy sometimes to sit in a ‘bubble’ when everyone is ranting about funding cuts, it can feel as though all families, services and organisations are struggling. I know how damaging funding cuts are and how they are a real threat to the important extra-curricula work that we do here. I had just assumed that the community Christmas dinner would always happen, that we would find the money somewhere. I spent most of the remainder of the Finance Board distracted, trying to imagine where we would find the funds required to organise this delightful community event, there must be a magic money pot that we can go to, I have since been told by our Finance Manager that such a magic pot does not exist!
I had a number of creative ideas that could generate some monies but soon realised there must be more I could do. I had heard of crowdfunding before but never really looked into it as a viable way of raising funds. After the Finance Board I had a quick look and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to set up. Within an hour we had our first donation and by the end of the day we had £70.
But why would you expect people to pay for someone else’s Christmas dinner? We may not all be millionaires but many of us lead a comfortable life. Christmas is after all a time of giving, a time of thinking about others, and above all a time to enjoy life. One smile from a child’s face at the community Christmas dinner is surely priceless.
It's such a great thing to bring the community together – especially at Christmas, let's not let funding cuts stop it from happening!
Please donate to the JustGiving Crowdfunding Page and help make it happen:
Thanks for your support.