Words by Abi Scaife
One of the biggest barriers to positive, sustainable change - as with most things - is money. Particularly for small, local charities and community initiatives that are trying to help the people they know, and care about, the problem comes down to access to resources.
The main 'solution' that the global north has employed over the last couple of centuries, since the concept of ‘charity’ really took off, involves sending people from rich countries to poorer countries, and having them enact their charitable efforts.
There are a lot of problems with this - not least that people who are coming in from a very different situation often don’t know the nuances, the ins and outs of the communities that they are trying to help. They have the best intentions, but the truth is, the people best suited to solving these problems are those that are living them.
To this end - the Global Fund for Children was created 30 years ago. They are dedicated to helping children and young people, and do so by sending funds directly to the charities and community groups that are already established locally.
“I've worked in the charitable sector since I left university,” explains Hayley Roffey, who is the Global Managing Director of Global Fund for Children. “The previous organisation I worked for was founded by my dad and was working with disadvantaged children, young people across the south of the UK, London and the Southeast, and Global Fund for Children said they wanted to fund us."
“It's been a really interesting journey because it means I've had the perspective of what it's like to receive GFC funding - and the grants officer who supported [us] right from the start is still here! So it's been a really, really lovely full-circle journey.”
Having once worked for small charities herself, Hayley knows how difficult it can be for local groups to get the resources that they need to take care of their own children and young people - and knows what they need when it comes to a partnership.
“We are like the opposite of how international aid works,” explains Hayley. “We work with local people in their local community [to] try and mobilise and move resources to them so they can do the work to meet those most vulnerable [people] - rather than people from the global north, going to countries and providing that support directly themselves.”
“It's all about locally rooted people who already know how to meet needs. It's not rocket science. It's just something that I think we've forgotten as a society over the years.”
The goal, for Hayley and GFC as a whole, is to make it easier for charities to help people. They aim to take away the pressure and stress that comes with having to jump through hoops and fill out long, difficult forms - and instead focus on doing what they do best.
Hayley and her incredible teams are helping to revolutionise the charity sector, making it more efficient, and less stressful for those who are just trying to make a difference in this world.
“I heard [someone] say ‘this sector is the only sector where non-experts tell experts what to do’,” comments Hayley. “[But] I think local people are the experts - why should we tell them what to do? They know what they're doing. They just need resources. They don't have the time, the means, the access - so they need organisations like GFC, who've been around for 30 years [and] who've got thousands of people in our networks. “
“That's what we can open up for them. That's what they need. They don't need people telling them how to work with children and people - [but] they might need help with creating budgets, they might need help with opening bank accounts because we often will also fund unregistered groups, groups led by young people.”
At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.
Create. Create is the UK's leading charity empowering lives, reducing isolation and enhancing wellbeing through the creative arts. Support them here.
Save The Children UK. Save the Children is a UK charity for children that works in over 100 countries to make sure children are fed, learning and treated fairly. Learn more here.
Barnardo’s. This is a children's charity that protects and supports children and young people in the UK who need them. Find out more here.