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Only urgent and long-lasting action can save the struggling third sector from unprecedented crisis

Letter of the day: budget cuts

The first three months of 2017 have brought an almost unprecedented level of uncertainty to the third sector here. With Brexit looming large and a crisis at Stormont adding further woe to an already precarious situation, the environment is challenging.

The third sector is facing massive uncertainty, with the potential for cuts to services and redundancies.

The crisis is also a challenge to our own involvement in the small community institutions around us.

Many small community groups and charities rely on public funding, which is at the mercy of our uncertain politics.

These are ordinary people - groups of mums coming together to look after children with special needs, friends coming together to build a better football pitch - and where we see these adding value to our community, maybe we should consider giving to them directly?

In the last year, the Community Foundation was able to approve more than £9m in grants to groups and individuals across the region.

This includes the First Steps Women's Centre in Dungannon. It has hit the headlines, expressing fears about its future existence, describing the situation it faces as like looking at the edge of a cliff.

Make no mistake, these are frightening times for local charities. It brings into sharp relief a question which has bubbled under the surface for some time: How do we make the sector less vulnerable to the vagaries of politics?

While we know that community philanthropy is alive and kicking, all the evidence would suggest that there has never been a greater need for philanthropy at all levels.

Daily requests for support to the foundation are on the increase and the media is reporting now on charities having to cut back services and/or close.

It is vitally important that we recognise, encourage and support philanthropy in our community.

Andrew mccracken

Chief executive, Community Foundation

Belfast Telegraph

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