Back page: My week - Luke FitzHerbert yearns for Ruthenia

Monday: A delight bounces on to my desk.

I don't often respond to printed charity appeals, but there is the odd exception. For years, I have supported the Karuna Trust, attracted both by the cause - helping Dalit children in India - and its fundraising technique in the UK: volunteer fundraisers follow up printed accounts of their work with wonderful photography.

Many of the pictures used to be taken, at cost, by Ian Waddell, a fine UK photographer. Now Karuna has found a brilliant way to follow on from him. For its annual review for 2006, it gave cameras to children in its projects in India to record what they think important about their lives.

The results are breathtaking.

Tuesday: The first evaluation report of the Community Fund's part of the Fair Share Scheme has revived my doubts about the proportion of funding for charities that is focused on disadvantaged areas. It says: "Staff saw poor-quality projects in Fair Share areas being funded while excellent projects elsewhere, serving very disadvantaged people, were not getting anything."

Sure, in these areas the proportion of people who are disadvantaged will be higher than anywhere else, but isn't it also true that most people who are disadvantaged don't live in them?

Wednesday: A happy morning with people from Russian and Ukrainian community foundations.

I was delighted to meet Oksana Grytsulyak from the King George Community Foundation in Ivano-Frankivsk. This town is a gateway to sub-Carpathian Ruthenia, where I have wanted to go since seeing its name in the AG Macdonell comic classic England, Their England as a teenager.

Ruthenia has been pretty inaccessible to tourists, and all I have been able to do is look over the Ukrainian border from Eli Wiesel's home town of Sighet in Romania. But Oksana tells me that the awful border bureaucracy has been eased, and that next time I am there I should be able to get across.

Friday: The DSC has been reporting the large average size of the Big Lottery Fund's Reaching Communities grants. Martyn Riley of Kent County Council has written in on this. "Over the first 90 bids, the average grant is more than £220,000," he says. "If this continues, it will mean that, instead of funding 3,600-plus projects a year (as in the case of the old Community Fund), Reaching Communities will fund fewer than 500. This will have a more profound effect on the voluntary and community sector than any change in outcomes or application processes." He may be right.

- Luke FitzHerbert is senior researcher at the Directory of Social Change.

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