During the long school holiday we were delighted that Free Wheel North agreed to extend our usual fortnightly cycle rides from Maryhill Locks to add-in fortnightly rides from Glasgow Green, too, with emphasis on providing family-friendly rides for autistics. From here we could make use of adapted bikes and flatter terrain and we were delighted to meet some very inspiring parents and their wonderful children – a delight for all of us.

I feel very strongly that smaller charities are the most deserving of wider support, maintaining that closeness to the issues of their driving focus and I look forward to the day when funders recognise this more and acknowledge the problems of a closed circle of major organisations providing care services. Care comes from the heart, not the accountant’s bottom-line so it falls to smaller charities and peer support groups to run the gauntlet of obstruction and deflection and politics to fight harder for survival while having the best impact on those who get to know about what is available from them.

But, such is the way of the world and Charities were made to behave more like businesses – with the inevitable consequences – but it is up to those in their charge to remember the reason their service exists. That’s not to use individuals or their funding packages to prove they’re a great service or to coerce the vulnerable into signing forms registering their delight at the help they’ve received. Many charities are begun by people out of a need to fill a gap in service provision. They put in the hours and the fight to build and their service and really help individuals out of dedication for those they care about – care about. They hit the right notes in terms of how it should look and sound and then the bigger charities move in with promises of bringing the services to more deserving individuals.

From then on care becomes industrialised, rationed in relation to the value of the individual to the organisation. They are commodities and the more capable among them will be encouraged to act as a mascot for their sincerity – with a few perks thrown in. Wealthier families will be welcomed to maintain the appearance of propriety and family connection, while those in most need fall by the wayside again. Safety nets have huge holes in them and most people play the game to save themselves.

We have learned from this in Auticulture Network and strive for one thing above all else, in our group – care. We enjoy space to care for ourselves and allude to the natural processes of life as demonstrated so well by nature all around us. We care for each other, too and I recall how all the best information about our condition came from other members of our group having all felt let down by the official services in many ways on many occasions. I’m grateful for our small group. I’m grateful for knowing the members who recognise and protect the core values of our group and I’m grateful to know that our members care about members’ wellbeing without establishing the convenience and cost of doing so first.

Care. It’s a valuable commodity but where we place the value is a reflection of ourselves. We are so grateful to work with some amazing organisations to achieve memorable experiences yet remain small, meaningful and true.


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