In these times of untrammelled mayhem and spectacular ineptitude, it is kind of hard to make a blog about small charity bidding for some Council funding stand out from the crowd.
And you know what? I reckon such a challenge is nigh on impossible. So I guess the best approach is to crack on and tell it like it is.
THE MONEY ON THE TABLE
Dumfries and Galloway Council have allocated £200,000 for charities who do their best to help out people who are lost in poverty. Charities like First Base.
So how do we make a pitch for a share of the spoils? It is straight forward enough. Step one is a pretty simple application form. Who are we? What do we do? How do we help alleviate poverty?
So far, so good. We are the First Base Agency. We're a small independent charity. We been doing our thing since 2003. We help out 5000 people a year with emergency food parcels.
The Council wallahs duly signed off and sent our bid forward to the next stage. Basically, the cash is divied up, and each of Dumfries and Galloway's four regions have a pot of their own. We have bid for funding in Nithsdale and Annandale and Eskdale. This week Nithsdale makes its choice as to who gets the cash.
At this point the decision as to who gets the money and who doesn't is passed over to the public. Yeah. As in me. As in you. As in us. We're talking democracy in the raw. The fancy term is 'Participatory Budgeting'. Aye. I know. Quite a mouthful. In layman's terms it means we the community get to participate in how the Council spends it's budget. In even plainer layman's terms, we get the chance to vote for who we want to get the cash.
HOW DOES THE PUBLIC VOTE?
If you live in Nithsdale and you are over the age of 12, you have the right to have your say. You can either vote on line or you can vote in person.
If you prefer the online option, then follow the link below
It should take you no more than five minutes. You'll get asked for your name, e mail address, date of birth and postcode and then you make your pick.
And hopefully First Base will be your first choice.
SO WHAT WILL WE SPEND THE MONEY ON IF ENOUGH PEOPLE VOTE FOR US?
Well that is a question which is easily enough answered. We have bid for £9500. We'll spend the money on making emergency food parcels available from a total of 12 collection points right the way across Nithsdale. From Kirkconnel to Dalbeatie and all points in between.
The money will enable us to help out about 1500 people at the moment their lives pretty much hit rock bottom.
About half of these people will come into our main base on Buccleuch St in Dumfries. Others will use our various collection points. Libraries. Social Work offices. The Homeless Department. Housing Associations. Even an animal sanctuary on the edge of Sanquhar.
Each parcel contains enough food for half a week's worth of eating. The ingredients are not Fortnum and Mason. Instead they are filling and easy to prepare. Breakfast, lunch and dinner with a few snacks thrown in.
Our job is to give people a lift at the moment their life hits a very low point.
What else should you know? Well this is pretty key. When anyone finds the courage to come forward to ask for our help, they are never, ever judged. We don't meet them with a clipboard's worth of innappropriate and intrusive questions. We don't subject them to Dickensian means testing. We don't look to separate the so called 'deserving poor' from the so called 'undeserving poor'.
Instead we simply help them out with half a week's worth of food. And then we never, ever gossip about it.
We are well aware that foodbanks have become the last outpost of a Welfare State which is withering on the vine. Sadly, we live in a time when there are more and more desperate people in our midst. We all know all about the reasons for this. There is no need to go over old ground.
Let's just say things certainly ain't getting any better. We are going to have to help out an awful lot of people in the next year and £9500 is a big deal for us.
If you live in Nithsdale and you are reading this blog, then there is a better than even chance you've heard something about First Base and what we do. If this is the case, I hope you will reckon we are worth 5 minutes of your online time. That is what it takes for you to cast a vote for us. Like I said before, just follow the link below.
Alternatively you can come along to Wallace Hall School in Thornhill between 11 am and 3 pm on Saturday afternoon. We will be there touting for votes and it would be good to see you.
So. I reckon that is about it. Thanks for giving this a read and even bigger thanks if you have taken the trouble to give us your vote.
Over to you guys. Just follow the link below. Please. And please share this blog with your friends.