It's Celebration Day: Pop open the Fizz!

It's Celebration Day: Pop open the Fizz!
Deborah Hayman

Day 6 of Small Charities Week Celebration Day: Pop open the Fizz!

Day Six of Small Charities Week, (the final day, which technically took place on Saturday!), is all about celebrating. So pop open the fizz and let us all say a great big thank you to small charities for all the effort you put in to make the world a better place.

Did you know that although most articles site that there are around 160,000 charities in the UK, the real number is far, far higher – this is just the number of registered charities in England and Wales so once you add on Scotland and Northern Ireland plus non-registered charities and other charitable legal forms, the number is probably much closer to 400,000 (Civil Society magazine).

In Southwark alone there are 1,222 registered charities and many more organisations of different legal forms (2015/16) in addition to as many as 4,500 ‘below-the-radar’ community and voluntary groups – but this is very much an estimate. In fact, between October 2012 and January 2015, there was an 11% increase in the total number of charities directly associated with Southwark.

When it comes to income, NCVO analysis of fundraising efficiency shows that micro charities generate the highest ratio of income per pound (£10.34 for every £1 spent), precisely because their costs are so much lower (for example, only 1.8% of micro organisations and 6.7% of small organisations have paid staff, compared with over 80% of organisations over £1m).  In 2015, approximately £185 million was raised by bake sales alone (NPT).

These headlines only tell part of the story though; the real scoop is the stories that come directly from you so here are just a few:

Smileys Playgroup

Smiley’s Playgroup was set up two years ago in response to a need - expressed by parents and carers on the Dickens Estate (Bermondsey) for more play facilities for pre-school children: and also, as a way of tackling the isolation experienced by young families living locally.

Like many small groups, Smileys is starting to punch well above its weight. As well as providing a range of activities including physical activities for babies and arts and crafts activities for toddlers to develop their fine motor and creative skills, the  group has a planned programme of activities of workshops to support families with advice on healthy eating and gardening activities that will encourage families to take part in growing their own food.

The group is supported by a range of highly qualfied child care workers and has recently been awarded a grant by United St Saviours Trust that will be used to support the groups work and its facilities. Watch this space!

Trusting long-term relationships, including with hard-to-reach groups

We are not statutory which enables us to get through the door with some families who are difficult or refuse to engage with social care. We take time to build relationships with service users and work at their pace. Parents trust us and gradually open up and confide in volunteers. – Home Start Southwark.

Signposting and helping people to access their rights

We provide assistance to access mainstream services e.g. school places and sexual health clinics. We also help with access to the local authority, councillors and MPs. We assisted one woman to access the NHS complaints system. – Latin American Women’s Rights Service
“Our multi-lingual advice service has improved the quality of life of people from multiple ethnic backgrounds, through greater access to services and maximizing their income.” Local advice charity

Reducing pressure on statutory services and supporting those below thresholds

Without us many families that we support would need to be passed over to Southwark’s Early Help teams and social care…Parents who do not reach the threshold for social care would receive no services. They would slide further into crisis. Families making progress would slide back into isolation, depression, illness etc. - Home Start Southwark

  • Our work has increased employment and economic participation among young adults.” Housing charity
  • Our work with older people living with long- term health conditions has reduced incidences of unscheduled hospital admissions, leading to better health and mental wellbeing.” Health charity
  • “If we were unable to support carers and explain the challenges they face with changes to tax and benefits, the council may have to find a lot more funds for social care.” Local charity
  • “Without us, around 70 people would be homeless, increasing the burden on local taxpayers. Local groups would receive less support and around 180 pensioners would see their incomes fall.” Local charity 

Helping people to help themselves and their communities

Older people need to find a welcoming place to share their skills…people retired for a long time like to be useful and to contribute to the wellbeing of their community e.g. volunteering to repair a house, gardening. - ATD Fourth World

“We help families of babies and children with Down's Syndrome to access free early intervention therapies. If we didn't exist families would get next to nothing. The cost of doing nothing in the child's early years will cost the public sector far more later down the line.” - Local charity supporting families 

We support people with serious mental health problems to stay well and get people back to work, as well as dealing with stigma.” Local mental health charity.


Get in touch for support


For useful advice, contact Community Southwark We can talk through things on the phone or arrange a free appointment for you to come in and see us.

Join the campaign!

Small Charities Week is running three competitions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to help raise the profile of small charities with cash prizes for the winners.

Getting involved is easy, take a photo of yourself holding up a poster that reads: “I love (your charities name) because (why you love them)”.

Or take a video of yourself with your poster and shout out loud about why you love your charity. Then simply post it to either Twitter, Instagram or the Small Charity Week Facebook page, take a look here.

Please do include us in your ‘’I love my charity because…’’ tweets to @cosouthwark and use the hash tag: #ILoveSmallCharities. Let’s all shout about our wonderful charities! Keep us posted too about your events and activities and we’ll add them to our Community Southwark website through the week.