Dee Nutt, chair of Dartmouth Caring, commissioned this evaluation in the winter of 2012 against a background of great change within the statutory services and the NHS. She felt that there should be a detailed evaluation of the work of the charity to demonstrate the value of a small charity within the community.
The report shows that even on conservative estimates, Dartmouth Caring, with an income of less than £150,000 per year, delivers savings to the public purse of over £700,000.
It is of great importance that people understand the vital role that organisations such as Dartmouth Caring perform because similar community charities all over the country are currently very vulnerable at this time of change and economic instability. Public funding is limited and sources of charitable giving are under pressure with all local charities going after the same pool of resources. In Devon alone, several charities are going under every week.
The evaluation document has been written by an independent consultant with operational and financial details provided by the charity. The figures used are from 2011 to 2012, but those for 2013 are again showing an increase in demand for Dartmouth Caring’s services.
The report shows, that as a small charity serving its local community, Dartmouth Caring makes a significant difference to the lives of its service users – improving their wellbeing, social connections and financial position.
It delivers real cost savings for the NHS and Social Services, providing services that offer demonstrable value for money by maximising use of volunteers and levering in external funding. It also pays a key role in addressing current and future health and social care challenges in and around the area.
There are a number of lessons for both the third sector and public sector arising from this study
- Investment in preventative services deliver long-term benefits both financially (for the public sector and wider society) and in terms of the well-being of the services beneficiaries and their families. Charities such as Dartmouth Caring play a key role in supporting vulnerable clients and avoiding the need for more intensive external support.
- The need for a joined-up approach and intelligent commissioning is vital. One of the strengths of a charity such as Dartmouth Caring is its close working relationship with the key service suppliers, such as the local medical practice and community hospital. This enhances the provision of services that are tailored to the needs of specific vulnerable groups.
- An imperative consideration is that “local people” know their local population and the community they live in. Local charities, such as Dartmouth Caring, have developed a basis of trust and in-depth knowledge – often knowing much more about the local community, population, their lives and families than the statutory services. These charities often act as clients’ surrogate family and are able to liaise and advocate on their behalf.
- The elderly and infirm trust local charities where they know the people involved. There is a fear among the vulnerable that decisions about their lives will be made for them and that they will be taken over by the statutory services. Even if they remain hidden from the statutory services they are on the charity’s radar.
- If charities such as Dartmouth Caring did not exist, there can be little doubt that the cost of the public purse would be significant.
- Funding is a real challenge and the capacity of the organisation is diverted away from delivering services by the need to raise funds. Serious consideration should be given to the provision of core funding to ensure long-term stability.
- Greater resources for monitoring and joint outcomes evaluation in conjunction with the NHS and Devon County Council would enable Dartmouth Caring and other partners to be in a much better position to demonstrate their full value. Objective decisions where to allocate resources and ensure that local needs are met.
Dee Nutt, Chair, said: ”Without local charities such as Dartmouth Caring, the community would be a sadder place. We know our clients and can help them and care for them how they wish. In many instances, we ensure that they can remain in their homes for as long as possible with support. David Cameron is continuously emphasising local community support. This is exactly what charities such as Dartmouth Caring are doing.”
(from a press release)