The independent London newspaper

The city farm is not alone as a charity facing serious challenges

10 May, 2019

A campaign is under way to Save Kentish Town City Farm

• THE situation at Kentish City Farm is, sadly, not unique, and becoming more apparent with smaller voluntary organisations, (‘Death spiral’ warning for Kentish Town City Farm, May 2).

Charity organisations across London are finding themselves in a similar situation, where expenditure outstrips income. Charities have faced years of funding cuts, increased costs, and for many, higher rental charges.

Less and less money is available from funding sources. There is far less money to go around. Charities are pressured to deliver more as the cuts from local government increase and the inequality gap widens.

In addition Camden community organisations all report that there is an increasing demand for services as a result of cuts in other services and benefits.

The city farm is now facing an exceptional level of depleted resource but there are more of these stories to come, especially as more cuts are planned in 2020.

Charities have specific aims, objectives and beneficiaries. Trustees are volunteers with responsibilities to meet their objectives and the legal and financial obligations to funders, users and staff. Their task is to put the best interests of the charity first and foremost.

Trustees take strategic decisions to enable a ​charity to carry out its purpose, to deliver the best possible benefit to the people that the organisation helps.

When an organisation has faced deficit year on year steps have to be taken to turn that situation around or close.

Reducing expenditure means changing the way things were done in the past. Staff salaries are the largest expenditure for most charities, and sometimes the option to reduce that cost has to be considered.

The sector has always been good at evolving to meet new demands while preparing for the changes needed to adapt to the climate. This is happening at the city farm and in many more Camden charities.

A charity needs the support of the community to allow it to take stock and look to the future with clarity in vision and mission.

Camden Council, funders and other voluntary sector organisations support trustee boards, oversee their function, provide training, advice and monitor the results of income and expenditure on a regular basis.

All community organisations with any local authority or external funding has to be scrutinised in this way. Kentish Town City Farm is no exception.

We have confidence in the trustees and management staff to lead the charity through these difficult times and to ensure the long-term future of the organisation as an invaluable community asset.

The situation at Kentish Town City Farm is representative of the problems faced by several other well established charities serving the people of Camden.

Chair, Camden Community Centres’ Consortium (C4)


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