Letter: Charities now fund 'essentials'

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The Independent Online
THE benevolent funds and other charities (not individuals) that make up this association are pleased that the Duke of Edinburgh has raised an issue which has long been of concern to us: what should be in the public domain and what charitable ('Duke triggers off charity rethink', 12 June). The boundaries have been blurring for far too long.

It is ironic that at a time when charities are being expected by the Government to take on more and more, their status is under threat. This association was formed as member funds found themselves co- operating to help the same people and needing to work together to make sure it was in the best interests of the beneficiaries. That was nearly 50 years ago, and the need is even greater now. All our member funds help vulnerable, poor people who are often elderly.

Wheareas in the past they could sometimes be concerned with enhancing the quality of life for their beneficiaries - the cello for the gifted child unable to afford one or transport for the isolated elderly person - they now find themselves faced with ever-increasing demands for essential things from which the state has retreated:

Aids and adaptations for disabled people . . . What about the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act?

Grants for poor families in need . . . Why can the Social Fund not help?

Topping up fees in residential care and nursing homes for elderly frail people outside the scope of Care in the Community . . . Why are their DSS benefits often inadequate?

Purchasing nebulisers and TENS machines on doctor's recommendations . . . Why are they not available on the NHS?

Thousands of Benevolent Funds are taking decisions on such matters every day. Our aim is to ensure they do not do so in isolation. We strive to bring together their experiences and engage in a dialogue with the Government as well as encourage a public debate about what kind of society we want.

Valerie J Barrow

The Association of

Charity Officers

London WC1

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