I guess the news last night rather put a perspective on other new stories. Of all the tributes to Mandela, I thought Paul Boateng's was most pointed- he put Mandela's contribution into the political context. Paul was our first Black Ambassador to South Africa- his wife Janet was on the council with me and we both sat on social services. Not an easy task in Lambeth, and we both remember the momentous time Mandela came to Brixton. The crowds around and in the Recreation Centre were enormous and ecstatic and rightly so. All this reminded me of the work I, and friends did in Amnesty International (I was the Medway Towns secretary) in the late 70s and 80s supporting a group of political prisoners on Robben Island (the Pietermaritzburg 13). For those of us old enough to remember, not everyone supported the anti-apartheid struggle. But the genius of Mandela lay in his message of reconciliation. The tributes we have been listening to remind us that not all politics has to be adversarial ...more
Up in Manchester on Monday for a meeting with my Northern members on our manifesto preparations.
In a very caring sharing way we started off by a reflection on our highlights and lowlights of last week. Have to admit my highlight was ordering my Callow Farm organic turkey (currently in Orchard at farm!) And my door curtain purchase... Lowlight was hearing Panorama want to air their programme having a go at Comic Relief. Then it was into a discussion about what our sector can offer the parties if they are listening.
But now I'm in Scotland at our sister organisation ACOSVO who are holding a conference with the Carnegie Trust on how charities in the UK should tackle "cross border" issues for all those organisations who operate across the UK. ACEVO is a UK wide organisation and we have members in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. There are some 800 cross-border UK charities. The key issue we are debating is what will happen if Scotland vote for independence and what ...more
Appealing for Christmas.
Lots of discussion last week about the death of the High St., and lots of patronising comments about charity shops (if they even got mentioned!). A report from the distressed town centre property task force (elegantly named eh? ) also got lots of debate.
But all of this seemed to miss the point that charity shops help keep our High Streets alive. Indeed they enliven them. Some commentators even had the cheek to describe loan shops in the same breath as charity shops. What underlies this arrogance? Do they think charity shops aren't proper shops at all, because they run for charity not profit and they use volunteers?
As a habitual user of these wonderful institutions I know how this world has changed over the years. They are highly professionally run, with ranges of own-produced goods like the great Oxfam food ranges, as well as good quality and bargain clothes.
I was in one of my favourites at the weekend. The Helen and ...more
Of course I do have a rather personal interest in "Movember"! It was heartening to see how many MPs at PMQ yesterday were sporting Mos. And in our own sector notables among those growing Mos are Rob Owen of the St Giles Trust and David Fielding our head hunter friend. I've donated to David's giving page. You can see the result here
Having had prostate cancer I think I can be let off actually growing one (it would look awful) but I do think Sir Stuart needs encouragement to join in next year. Perhaps all the umbrella heads ( excluding Caron obviously) should , so come on Joe and Peter...next year? I’ll sponsor you too.
I shall be seeing ...more
So it’s the annual conference day and first off is the keynote speech by Dawn Austwick, 7 weeks into her new job as CEO of the Big Lottery Fund. She said she likes,"Grantees with attitude". It’s important for funders to tell funders what they need or want. Good point and note to all applicants! She also said Social investment; needs to be driven by mission. Not money. Mission driven social investment will trade returns for mission. I think this is a lesson for Big Society Capital who really do need to think more about the value they put on unsecured lending. That is what the sector needs. Not too many fancy new finance instruments, just straight forward loans.
But the morning was probably stolen by Sandra Schrembri, St Barnabas house who talked of the trials of her transformation of a hostel in Soho Square into a members club for social leaders who will finance the work they do with the unemployed. ACEVO members can join at discount. And you should. It’s a great place ( ...more
Disappointing, but some constructive discussion was had, but frankly, we need to do more if we are to avoid a winter crisis in our NHS. I am not convinced that the department of health is currently aware of the potential of the voluntary sector’s offer to help. We will continue to push at all levels of government to encourage them to act on it now. I did get a feeling that there is some movement, particularly in their promise to review the plans of the target 53 hospitals to see if any of them have looked at their role our sector can play.
We will be meeting with Jeremy Hunt in two weeks so that they can update us on any progress and on the discussions they have had about our offer and we will continue to discuss this matter with Number 10.I'm suggesting a big Summit to see how our sector can be used to tackle the looming A+E crisis.
Now it’s back to dear ACEVO and our annual conference taking place tomorrow. Tonight it’s our annual dinner where we will hear ...more
I hate early mornings. So reluctantly I was up to do an interview at 7am with BBC Radio 5 Live. But a good slot to talk about our plans to help relieve pressure on A+E departments this winter. I'm seeing Jeremy Hunt this afternoon to talk about it.
And then off to Millbank to do all the local radio stations. Stuck in a small room - with my headphones on - I was busy for a couple of hours chatting away to radio York, Essex. Lincs etc etc. Good to know all the hundreds of regional ACEVO members would be hearing me as they drive about their business!
So what is it we are proposing? In October I was asked by No. 10 what we could do to help reduce pressures on A+E this winter. We know that much of the increased demand in a cold snap is from more elderly people. And we know that many elderly people end up in hospital beds unnecessarily. This winter’s crisis is likely to be especially bad, as seen by the PM’s decision ...more
What a way to start the week - holding a vellum parchment from 1601 in the House of Lords!
I am trying to write a history of charity. A not un-mammoth task. I spent some of the few months recovering from my recent Op looking at documents in the Bodleian Library. It’s a fascinating area of study, but I also find so many parallels with modern day charity. Many of our so-called new ideas and innovations have been tried before. Even in the 16th century, for example, they had discovered the power of social finance and made loans to budding entrepreneurs. We just invent new names for old ideas and then market them as brand and new and sparkling.
And it’s instructive to have a solid understanding of how charity law has evolved. After all in Elizabeth's day it was about finding money to redeem prisoners, build bridges and roads.The preamble to the Act contains a list of activities the State believed were useful for society's benefit and wanted to encourage giving. The list is ...more
Well done to Victor Adebowale for his comments on the Lobbying Bill. He deserves wide support. Of course I'm hopeful we can get meaningful change, but the worst effect of the Bill could be self-censorship.
So what did he say?
“The not-for-profit sector is at a crucial point; we can either lead or be led, be silenced or speak out."
The recent convergence of not-for-profits, including the forming of some very unlikely alliances in response to the lobbying bill, is a good example of the latter happening. I’m as concerned, hopefully, as any one of you about its chilling impact on free speech in this country.
I think the bill sends the wrong signal about how we value such concerns. In the past it would have meant the Tolpuddle Martyrs, the Suffragettes, suddenly when it came to an election, would have said, ‘hang on, we need to pull back here people, we’re worried, we might get fined’. Is that acceptable? No. That’s not how society changes.
A slightly different version of today's post also appears in the Guardian's online Society section.
I remember the moment with utter clarity. Where I was sitting, what I was doing, and what I was looking at. My consultant had called with the results of my third biopsy. It was positive. They had found 3 cancers in the prostate.
This had been a long journey and I should have been prepared; but I wasn't. Of course, I had been one of those people who always said that "cancer" shouldn't be such a dangerous topic that we don't talk about it. The reality is we all know of people who have died of cancer and despite all the many advances in research it still is a major killer.
Despite all the actual evidence of my own case it was difficult not becoming morbid; thinking of the music for one's Requiem (Faure or Mozart?)for example . However, my partner soon put ...more