Saturday, 11 October 2008

Getting through ; pushing our case.

At last the story about the trials and tribulations of charities is getting through . A .lot of good publicity yesterday about our plight . But it is concentrated on those that have have lost millions in Iceland ; the children's hospice with 6ml gone and the great Cats protection league with 12ml gone. This is great . But it is only part of the story.

A good meeting at the HM Treasury where Lord Myners says they want to help on Iceland . We have to go back to them with a more detailed position on the actual losses . We think it is much larger than being reported simply because many charities are keeping quiet about it . My Deputy did a brilliant job yesterday in the studios and with the press in talking about the problem and what Government need to do to support us . Our worry is that the Government will think that if they help out those charities who have lost deposits that is all they need to do . But that is a first step . We are all determined they must guarantee our losses. The meeting shows the key sector bodies working together ; Charities Aid Foundation , acevo and ncvo . This sends a powerful message.

But The Guardian and The Times carry main stores about our plight with good quotes from me . Dr Kyle is utilising his considerable media and networking skills to get on the airwaves ; ITN, Sky and BBC. And we both speak to most of the press , including the Sundays . The reality of politics is that unless it is seen as a major news story it is more difficult to grab a politician's attention .

We have had lots of messages about the other effects of the financial crisis .One member emails me to say they have lost a big commercial sponsorship from Lehman Brothers . Others report a continuing decline in donations , falling value of legacies and worries that corporate support will simply disappear.

So acevo carries on demanding an emergency fund of £500 ml to support those affected . I will be seeing Liam and Kevin as part of the getting to know you sessions that new Ministers have. So whilst normal business must continue ; I want to talk to them about driving forward service delivery through the sector , but I will also be stressing that action needs to be taken .

It is simply not good enough that the demands of councils and small businesses seem to be getting a strong airing and we are struggling to get our cause recognised. I also get a nice email from Nick Hurd , the new Tory sector spokesman . If you can get an idea of a person from an email he sounds a good guy and keen to support us , though I did notice in his email to my Policy Head that he wants to " hook up" , I guess an Oxford expression not current in my day ! I am seeing him Thursday and will brief him fully . We also need the Tory Front Bench to push our case .

My team back in the office have been fantastic in gearing up support . I end the week by emailing everyone to say thank you . We have seen a dramatic rise in requests from members to use our financial surgery . And members contact us in increasing numbers for advice .

It has been a gruelling week . But we all take great pride in how we have shown leadership on in this crisis . We have led the demands and promoted the story . Its not surprising I guess , as the Chief Executive will be the first person to realise the dangers and want to take action . And the CEO has the leadership role in taking steps to protect the staff and volunteers in their organisations , and crucially to see that services are protected.It is also greatly heartening to get emails from members who say thank you for the work we are doing to push the third sector case .

Now we will work with our colleagues in the sector to push home the message that we need support for our role in providing support to victims of the recession . I have responded positively to the call for a sector summit from Stuart Etherington . It will be held on Nov 24th .

As Dr Kyle puts it ; we are in a perfect storm where we face rapidly rising demand and falling income . It will not be long before charities start going to the wall if we don't get stuck in . So next week the campaign will continue.

But for now I intend to get out into a perfect English autumn and take the happy and sweet Sparkles , my puppy ,for a walk on Clapham Common. She has been bust untying my laces as I blog and shows signs of wanting to eat my toes , so time for walkies , as they say. I am in London this week as the Gas Board want to dig up my kitchen in the Stockwell flat . that will undoubtedly not be fun .

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