Saturday, 29 November 2008

India , Green and hope in a recession?

It was a bizarre moment. I was online and in the process of booking flights to Madras when the 10 pm BBC news came on . The atrocities in Bombay were being reported. I thought , perhaps time for reflection on that ; so i did not book . But then in the morning felt ashamed at such wimpish and irrational behaviour and went ahead and booked up . I am going to Madras and Southern India for a holiday next year . I am intending to follow in the footsteps of Great Grandfather x4 , who was a Colonel in the East India Company and fought with Wellington in his Indian campaigns. And the beeches of Tamil Nadia are supposed to be superb . And the British High Commissioner in India was on Today saying no reason not to continue going to India ; and he is right.

The events surrounding the arrest of Damien Green MP are truly shocking. I knew Damien well at Oxford . A good guy ; on the civilised wing of the Tory Party and a dedicated and intelligent MP. The heavy handed behaviour of the police is frightening . All the more reason for us to value our third sector organisations who campaign for our civil liberties and protect the fabric of our civil society . There is something rather sinister here and suspect we have not heard the last of this. The performance of Phil Woolas MP on the Today programme was lamentable . Can one not expect our Labour Government to be on the side of the people against the intrusions of an over mighty State? I have dropped Damien a note wishing him well after his 9 hour ordeal with Inspector Knacker of the Yard.

ACEVO is now working on its ideas from members for the action plan from Government for the sector . I got a feeling from members at our Annual Conference that there is a strong streak of determination that we can use the recession to strengthen organisations . There are opportunities for us to expand our role in tackling rising unemployment and the fall out of a downturn . And the continuing role for an expanded sector service delivery is as strong as ever . So we will need to review those challenges and opportunities . This reinforced my belief that we need to support restructuring through more mergers of charities , more alliances and partnerships , and exploring the scope for partnership with the private sector in delivering services. The downturn ought to encourage Government and local authorities to think what more can be delivered through the third sector . So I expect that in the new year we will see government pushing further on reform and the outsourcing of public services. And as I said at the Conference we have a strong relationship with Government and can expect them to support us . Though it would be nice if they could be prompt about it .

One of our keynote speakers at the Conference was Chris Banks , Chairman of the Learning and Skills council . He announced that they have commissioned ACEVO to undertake a study of Chief executives attitudes to the " Train to Gain " programme .Take up in the sector has been slow . Chief Executives tell me the bureaucracy is problematic , so we will review this and make proposals to the LSC. We have established a small steering group of senior members to guide the review and appointed Nick Carey , a bright young guy form Cambridge ( and who we rescued from a deathly career in accountancy )to handle the work stream .

We all know that upskilling is a vital part of any organisation's response to recession . CEOs need to ensure that the skills of their staff and volunteers is strengthened .It will be an interesting piece of work .

But now I am looking forward to a no nonsense relaxing weekend in Charlbury .The sun is faintly shining . There is a sharp cold in the air but a brisk walk to the magnificent Pub in Finstock , across the fields and woods around the Cornbury Estate will be invigorating . And the pint of Hook Norton Ale refreshing. Sparkles will enjoy the run and the ferreting around in her new coat!

It is my Board meeting next week and we too are looking at how we ensure our organisation , as well as the sector comes through the next decade strengthened.

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