Diversity makes idea of a united voice 'unrealistic'

Nathalie Thomas

The Government's desire for the voluntary sector to speak with one voice is an unrealistic expectation, according to a survey by the Directory of Social Change.

Nearly three-quarters of the voluntary organisations that responded said it would not be feasible for the sector to speak with a united voice, despite encouragement to do so by the Government's Active Community Unit.

Respondents cited the diversity of the sector as a potential barrier, as well as the incompatibility of differing structures within government and the sector itself. Smaller charities were also concerned about larger organisations dominating a single third sector agenda.

"Expecting all charities to speak with one voice is like expecting all businesses to speak with one voice," said Gerri Bright, manager of learning disability charity Inspire Nottingham. "Legislation, policy and funding all affect organisations in different ways, so there will always be different points of view."

Jane Harris, senior campaigns officer at Rethink, added that the diversity of voluntary organisations ensured that public debate is "more multi-faceted".

- See Hot Issue, page 23.

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