Saturday, 18 October 2008

Keble College in the sun ; Gloom on recession

Keble is a very glorious High Victorian building by my favourite architect William Butterfield. His chapel; and grand Dining Hall are particularly splendid. The buildings positively glowed in the autumnal sun as I waited in the Lodge for my nephew Julian to appear ( this is my hearty nephew rather than the poet , though I did note books of Rilke and Shelley on hearty's bookshelves, so perhaps a closet poet ? ). Julian is in his second year at Keble,reading History and German , but is now also Captain of Boats so he is the guardian of the Keble College's reputation on rowing . This apparently means getting up at 6 every day ! As I recall the only time I saw 6am when I was at Oxford was on returning from a party! Times change clearly.

Julian has asked me to dine in Hall . We sit appropriately enough under a portrait of Cardinal Newman . He was a very fine Anglican cleric , but converted to Rome . Now the Romans were aiming to disinter him for reburial in birmingham Cathedral . Their plans were thwarted when they discovered the body had completely decomposed . All that was left were a few items which , undeterred , they put in the newly constructed marble sarcophagus ;it is poetic justice for Newman as he had instructed that he be buried with his close friend and so they were violating his wishes by trying to disinter him .

It was curry in Hall , washed down with a passable Montepulchiano. It meant a somewhat slow start to Saturday. And now I need to settle down and think through our strategy for coping with a recession . It appears that the recession may be deep and long . This will change the plans for most charities . They will need to review and probably change their strategic direction . We need to think of the challenge of growing unemployment and what this means , not just to the economy but to society . there is a great article by Polly Toynbee in today's Guardian and a good interview with James Purnell ( this lad is a star ) . We cannot yet know the full extent of the problem . but we need to plan for the worst and hope for the best . And I want ACEVO to be there helping that process.

And we are also looking at this from the perspective of Futurebuilders , which I chair . How can we support third sector bodies in rising to the challenge of service delivery through help to upscale , to merge and to develop partnerships. We must look at bridge financing and loans to organisations to help surmount challenging financial times . With banks retrenching from loans the work of Futurebuilders becomes even moor important in providing capital for the sector. And we need to make progress with setting up a Social Investment Bank using unclaimed assets . The capacity of the sector must be strengthened . i talk to David Freud about our tactics on this and how we can get capital to flow to support more delivery .

We will also need to work with the Office of the Third Sector on plans they are drawing up and I text Campbell to set up a discussion . We are also in touch with Government departments and with the Local Government Association . the last thing we need in a recession is to see local councils cutting back on grants and support for front line charities and community organisations. They have done this before and we need to stop then doing it again . I have written to the new Chair of the LGA to ask for joint talks on how we can prevent this.

A heavy week ahead . But the suns shines brightly .

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