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Campaigning Charities in Austerity UK

New research reveals that charities and other voluntary groups are often absent from campaigns to tackle the root causes of poverty. This new report shows that voluntary groups, especially those under contract to government, face threats to remain silent about their experiences and many are fearful to speak out in case they lose their funding or face other sanctions.

The report, Voluntary Services and Campaigning in Austerity UK: Saying Less and Doing More, is written by Dr Mike Aiken, a specialist in the voluntary sector and is published by the National Coalition for Independent Action (NCIA), a network of people working in the voluntary sector.

Mike Aiken said says: “Charities have played an active role in a democratic society and this can be understood as their responsibility and ethical duty. Their voice needs to be heard and amplified, to provide a vital ingredient of evidence and to speak with authority and legitimacy to policy makers and civil servants – enabling the voice and experience of the most disadvantaged to be heard in the corridors of power and by other citizens.”

Penny Waterhouse, a Director of NCIA, says: “This research shows that some voluntary groups can, and do, speak out for a better world – if they are brave and think of their beneficiaries instead of their organisational interests and professional status. But why, in Britain, does civil society need to be brave to exercise freedom of speech? It’s a bad, and dangerous, state of affairs. NCIA calls on voluntary services to exercise their civil liberties and join with activists and campaigners to advocate forcefully on behalf of their beneficiaries.”

This report is one of 17 published by NCIA as part of their Inquiry into the Future of Voluntary Services.

The report is available to download here: