This week, we held our first fundraiser and policy evening for the Young Fabian’s Aspiration Fund. It was a phenomenal event that gave a representative insight into what is really going on in our local communities under the current Government policy changes and funding cuts.
We invited Marlene Forde, Project Manager of NOPA – the charity that the Aspiration Fund will be contributing towards – to speak to us about the work that her charity is doing in the midst of significant public sector cuts. As we hit the doorstep, its stories like the ones we heard over the course of the evening that will stay with us and remind us of how desperately a Labour Government is needed. Marlene spoke passionately and eloquently about the objectives of the charity – their ability to turn around young lives through intensive work with families under incredible pressures and offer a chance to those young people growing up in unimaginable circumstances. She spoke about the policies that the Labour Government brought in to equal out the life-chances for all young people and put children at the centre of our work.
Marlene made the case for prevention-focused policy; highlighting the need to recognise the suffering of that individual child and to work holistically with them to help break the spiral into school failure and a lifetime of unfulfilled potential. She spoke about the children and parents presenting with mental health needs that have not yet been recognised and their vulnerability as the lack of provision fails to intervene sufficiently.
It was a sobering reminder of what is truly at stake during this election – of what families up and down the country in our most deprived communities face as they struggle to get by in society. These are the families suffering the most with inadequate, overcrowded housing; the families having to make a choice between clothing themselves or their children adequately; the families relying on that hot school meal at lunchtime to ensure their children receive the necessary nutrition to grow up healthy and strong; and the families struggling to balance work, childcare, bills while relying on their local food bank to tide them over. And yet these are the families and children we hear so little from – who are being forgotten.
One of the most poignant moments in the evening was when a member remarked how shocking it was to know that all of this was going on just 300yards from his home. Marlene did a beautiful job of bringing these children and the challenges they face to life. Her encounters only increased the motivation to generate policy ideas that truly alleviate such inequality and breaks the cycle of deprivation that is becoming increasingly prevalent in one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
Through the generosity of Young Fabian members, we raised a significant sum towards our fundraising objective. A big thank you goes to all those who contributed prizes and took part in the evening’s raffle - an excellent way to end the evening. The event raised the questions as to how we are to tackle the problem of depleted resources, over-stretched services and slashed budgets, and provide the necessary intervention for every child to have the opportunity to achieve their potential. As Marlene quite rightly pointed out, in the face of all of these challenges, the question remains “What about the children?”
We'll be keeping you updated on our Charity of the Year, but if you would like any further information do get in touch with Vice-Chair, Ria Bernard.