CSOs talk funding at PCB

2011-10-06 00:00

WITH overseas funding drying up and support from the national lottery uncertain at best, local civic society organisations (CSOs) are feeling the financial pinch. In a bid to address this situation a meeting was held yesterday at the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business (PCB) at the Royal Showgrounds.

Called by the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Christian Social Awareness (PACSA), the meeting was attended by representatives from several city CSOs including Community Chest, Hospice, LifeLine, PADCA, Cerebral Palsy Association, Built Environment Support Group, Africa Enterprise, the Gay and Lesbian Network and the Allison Homes Trust.

“Things are getting critical financially,” said PACSA director Daniella Gennrich, who chaired the meeting. “But this is an opportunity for us to think about how to organise better.”

She said there was a need to combat the perception that the sector was divided and in competition over funding.

CSO representatives in fact said this was not the case and that CSOs frequently work closely together, although the public and businesses perceive otherwise.

“For local business it can be confusing to work out what the sector is all about,” said PCB CEO Melanie Veness, who suggested the creation of a website to be hosted on the PCB site.

“Someone who knows nothing about the sector can look at such a site and find out who does what. If someone is interested in helping street children they can find out how to engage with organisations working in that area.”

The meeting resulted in five task teams being set up to address issues identified by participants. These ranged from setting up a website, to a study of the impact and contribution of CSOs in the city, and a future vision for the city.

In addressing the latter issue Miles Giljam of Africa Enterprise said there was a need for a new social movement.

“There was the Anti-Apartheid movement that saw us move toward full democracy. Then there was the Rainbow Nation that pulled us together. That has come to an end. Where are we going next?”

• feature1@witness.co.za

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