Ask the candidates

You may have noticed that local elections are approaching.

North Lincolnshire Council has a lot to do with the voluntary sector, so to help you choose which candidates to vote for, may we suggest some questions you could ask?

Candidates’ opinions on the withdrawal of much of the funding for the voluntary sector might be interesting. Work supporting vulnerable people still needs doing, but nobody is willing to fund it properly.

Local charities are in trouble, having to cut back severely on services and lose buildings, and these include vital services such as:

• Age UK which supports older people in a wide variety of ways,

• Voluntary Action North Lincolnshire ourselves – we support the charities who are doing the work, advising them on legal matters, keeping them up to date on legislation and helping with financial systems such as the Annual Accounts.

• Crosby Community Association, which supports local people when they most need it with help and advice,

• Citizens Advice, which helps people with legal problems.

Charities which own buildings are finding it increasingly difficult to fund maintenance and repairs, which rapidly impacts on their ability to use the building for their work. Local councils used to offer help and advice and even grants to help local charities in their work. Now they are struggling themselves because of government cutbacks and seem not to even support charities in their hunt for solutions.

What do you think local councillors should do to keep charities functioning? Are charities even needed? Should the sick, poor, elderly and others be left to fend for themselves? If you find the latter distasteful, then buttonhole any councillor you are thinking of voting for and question them about their intentions if elected.

Even parish and town councils can offer small grants. Ask any candidates what they think about it. And remember, local councillor candidates cannot knock on every door. Google them or look them up in the local paper, and contact them to ask your questions. Get involved. After all, look what happened when we didn’t!