Monday 28 April 2008

Rogation, Bristol and Diabetes uk

So while you were all lounging about in bed on Sunday morning I was pulling on my boots to go out on an 11 mile walk.Yesterday was Rogation Sunday-the Sunday on which the boundaries of Parishes are "beaten " , a tradition that has been carried on since medieval times .So early morning I joined a bunch of folk from my village to beat the bounds of the parish of Charlbury. At one time they would bump choir boys on prominent boundary marks , or role them in briars and ditches or even throw them into ponds to ensure people did not forget where the boundaries are . A practice that is not now common , at least in Oxfordshire. As well as beating the bounds , this is also the time for prayer to ensure a fair crop.
One advantage of our walk on Sunday was that we were trekking over land that is normally not open to walkers. I'm afraid I only managed to get as far as lunch at the Ditchley model farm ; where I found the allure of my blackberry and a chair in the garden a little more compelling than another 5 miles trekking! And not having any choir boys to bump dampens ones enthusiasm I suspect!
Today was the 4th of our Future Builders open meetings , this time in Bristol. We are getting great feedback from the many people attending. Our message about reforming the processes to make them customer focused and ensuring effective and timely investment decisions is going down well. But even though we are only 3 weeks into the contract we hear the siren calls that speed means dodgy debts. I'm not sure a process that took , on average 5 months , if you were lucky , and with an overall strike rate, for all applications , of 7% is something that the sector should be shouting about ? We have to do better . And we are working with our staff and with our customers to make real improvements. I know from my acevo members that there is nothing that pisses off your average CEO more than time and effort put into applications , waiting months and then being told NO.
Part of our new FBE contract is a KPI on customer satisfaction so we will be judged on how we are doing by our clients in the sector. This is as it should be.We hope all parts of the sector will work with us to help drive change that benefits the sector.The series of meetings have been great and I have written to my colleagues in NCVO , the Institute of Fundraising, CFDG and NAVCA suggesting we join hands in running another series between us so we get maxi mun coverage.
Sunday evening also gave me a salutary reminder of what the core of the acevo CEO job is all about . I had an email from a member in some distress. They have been battling with a seriously bad Board of trustees , and he related a sad and sorry tale of fraud and bad practice . he is now out of a job. he wants my help , which he will get. One of the real advantages of a professional body dedicated to the CEO is that we can support our members in distress. I'm not sure what we can do to help here but I always regard this as something I tackle myself.
Over the years I have had a range of similar such calls and I always try to do what I can .By supporting a CEO we do what we can to improve the overall health of the sector's governance. I remember once being taken to task for daring to say that the sector is complacent on governance. If only people could see the stories of bad governance I see. It is one of the reasons acevo has developed a suite of services to support CEOs and their trustees . In particular we have launched a governance review service that we have been rolling out across sector organisations. My rather splendid Head of Policy Seb Elsworth is leading this with great success.
In the post today was my induction pack from Diabetes UK. i have joined the organisation , led by their acevo member CEO . When I joined I promised him I would be no trouble! The pack was great . This is just one of the real values of the third sector; an organisation that brings together people who have this particular chronic condition ; to provide mutual support and to campaign for effective treatments and research. When our health service is dominated by the interests of those who run the illness service we lack effective health education , preventative services ,adequate screening and healthy living advice and support.
But lest I be thought to be critical of the NHS it was instructive to hear a programme on radio 4 about the 60th anniversary of the service and the inspiration that Nye Bevan drew from the work of the Medical Aid Society, a third sector organisation that existed to provide free medical help based on need not ability to pay.In the arguments about third sector service delivery it is a pity many in the sector ,with somewhat short historical memories, forget our sector has been providing health services to the people of this country for over 1000 years.

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