Brexit blow: let’s fight fear together

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Susan Smith believes the third sector is right to be nervous about the future and should arm itself now for rocky years to come

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8th February 2017 by Susan Smith 1 Comment

Charities are overwhelmingly afraid of what is going to happen when the UK leaves the EU, according to the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations' latest research.

More than eight in 10 people working in the third sector said they thought Brexit would be bad for both the economy and society, which is high given around a third of the Scottish population voted for it.

In a survey of UK managers carried out by the Chartered Institute of Management at the end of last year, just 49% thought Brexit would be bad for the economy over the next three to five years.

So, why are people in the third sector so much more pessimistic?

As the representative of society’s underdogs, the third sector perceives the impact of economic uncertainty more keenly than other parts of society.

Third sector staff can see the devastating impact that cuts to services and benefits are having on people, families and communities. They know that some people’s human rights are already in jeopardy – just last week disabled Scots sent a report to the UN arguing they were being disproportionately affected by cuts to benefits and services.

Events locally and globally over the last few years point to a hard future, where less overall wealth will be fiercely fought over. The gloves are already coming off in bouts between the haves and have nots.

It’s also no wonder third sector staff have become jaded as they juggle rising demand for life-line services with cuts to their own funding.

The truth is although people in the third sector cannot predict the future, they are right to be nervous. Events locally and globally over the last few years point to a hard future, where less overall wealth will be fiercely fought over. The gloves are already coming off in bouts between the haves and have nots.

The UK is leaving the EU whether we like it or not, but this moment of calm before the storm is the ideal time to come together and form a plan.

Brexit is just one of the topics being discussed at the Gathering in Glasgow in a few weeks’ time, when charities anxious about leaving the EU can put questions to the Scotland’s Brexit minister Mike Russell.

Those expecting to have to campaign more in the years ahead will also benefit from hearing Margaret Aspinall, the chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, talk. She fought for 27 years for justice for her son James, who was killed in the football stadium tragedy.

So, will Brexit really break Scotland? Scotland's third sector is one of the sections of society dedicated to ensuring it doesn't. So, now is the time to muster some energy and arm itself for a tough few years ahead.

If you’ve not signed up to attend the Gathering in Glasgow on 22 and 23 February 2017, do so now at thegathering.scot.

Comments

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14th February 2017 by Rose Burn

A question or two to put to Mr Russell is why the Scottish economy and hence our living standards are only growing at one third the pace of the rest of the UK, and have been doing so since late 2014? Why didn't the Scottish government use its tax raising powers in the recent budget to give more money to local services and charities?