Call for ‘social infrastructure’ investment
Government and private sector cash — along with laws — are needed to help provide a “striving society” for Bermudians and avoid a stark future state, a prominent island social worker says.
Charities figurehead Elaine Butterfield drew a comparison between Bermuda and a “small island” that she once visited on a cruise.
According to the executive director at The Centre on Philanthropy, “all looked so well” on the island comprised of “pastel coloured and pretty” houses.
The true reality, however, soon became apparent.
“On taking a tour and immediately on driving past the shore-lined cottages, the air smelled of trash and people begged for money and anything that could help them to eat and live,” Ms Butterfield said.
“This may seem to be a farfetched example, but this or something similar could be our future state, if we cannot see the urgency of investing in our social infrastructure.”
Ms Butterfield said investment was needed to provide local data identifying core needs of charities, many of which were collaborating in tough times to “maximise their impact”.
There are about 320 registered charities operating in the country, down roughly 20 per cent since the establishment of the revised Charities Act in 2014, she said. Of those, approximately 150 are “core charities”, addressing a variety of human services, including abuse, education and human rights.
“Trends in social needs will likely continue to strain the capacity of public and private sectors and challenge non-profits to respond,” she said.
“Like organisations are pooling their resources in events, programmes, and a few are even considering consolidation or mergers.
“What we really need are resources to provide concrete data to identify core needs, promote consensus building, and collaboration to support a collective strategy involving all sectors.
“Charities would be far more effective and sustainable with this kind of support.”