Communities: Charities and Volunteers

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:27 pm on 13th February 2019.

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Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 4:27 pm, 13th February 2019

I have had conversations with the devolved Administrations on sport and connecting communities, but I have not directly had any on that issue. I am however very happy to take that up and co-operate with colleagues across the House to work with the devolved Administrations. As a Wales Minister, I was very aware that there are particular communities that we need to make sure Westminster and Whitehall are reaching.

We are breaking down barriers to volunteering for everyone, and we are focusing on those at risk of loneliness and looking to the long term to help those people who might want to get involved and who might need a new direction and feel isolated. I am backing that again today with cash: £250,000 for new funding to do exactly that.

When communities are facing their moment of greatest need, a connected community is what matters most. We saw that in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Local charities at the heart of the community stepped up, working in partnership with national organisations and emergency services to provide support for those in need. The public responded, too, by raising over £29 million. That was unprecedented, and it highlighted that we are at our very best when we come together and help each other. This community support was invaluable in helping the Government reach the Grenfell victims and their families quickly, and we will continue to support them. We are working with our experienced charity partners to further strengthen the response and be ready for any future emergencies.

How can business help our communities? Society’s needs are at the heart of good decision making. The private sector is a great force for good, and this is a chance to address society’s most pressing issues by encouraging innovative public services to work alongside private investors, socially responsible businesses and social enterprise. From tackling homelessness to helping young people reach their full potential, business and finance can and must play a crucial role.

Through social impact bonds, we are bringing together investors who want to make a difference with charities who have the expertise to make real change. This successful model is already having a positive impact on people and communities across the country. Charities such as St Mungo’s and Thames Reach are working with the most vulnerable rough sleepers in London to help them rebuild their lives. This social impact bond gives charities the financial safety net to do this important work, and I was struck by the passion and commitment of the staff I met last week and the results they have achieved. Since the project was launched in 2017, it has helped more than 150 people to find homes. We know that this funding model works, and that is why we are investing £80 million through the life chances fund to give more support to social impact bonds that create people-focused results. People matter, and we are delivering for them.