Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Auntie in a mess and social care

I have just been online to make my donation to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for Gaza. It is both a good thing to do , but also a blow against the disgraceful behaviour of the BBC.

The decision by the BBC not to broadcast the DEC appeal has been rightly pilloried. The 2 reasons they gave for not running the Appeal are unacceptable. It is not for the BBC to determine whether humanitarian aid can get through to Gaza . That is the job of the NGOs involved in this Appeal . It is a piece of monumental impertinence for the BBC to tell the sector how to do its job. And the question of " partiality " simply does not stack up . People are able to determine what is a humanitarian appeal from what is showing political partiality in a conflict. I have written to Mark Thompson to express my concern - in forthright terms! I have also asked Sir Michael Lyons , who Chairs the BBC Trust, to review the case immediately. I know both these guys . They are good . Lets hope common sense prevails. Mark is allowed an occasional mistake ; as long as he puts it right

DEC do a superb job . Brendan Gormely , who runs DEC , is a member and he does great things in pulling together the charities who form the coalition on causes like Gaza. The work of DEC is admired internationally , and indeed ACEVO helped export this model to Italy last year . It is a brilliant example of charities working together on a common cause , whilst maintaining their own identities and missions . It is a model of alliance and partnership working we may begin to see more of over the coming years in charities working in the UK. For example , as homelessness grows I wonder if we might see national appeals for support from the various key homeless charities?

I think the recession will generate more mergers in the sector , but as important , it will generate more partnership working where charities and third sector bodies working in similar fields join together on projects or campaigns. And there will also be more working in partnership with the private sector ( though this is still a largely unexplored are as yet ).

Lunch time was the presentation of the annual report on the state of social care in the UK by the General Social Care Inspectorate. People sometimes claim there is no evidence of the value added of the third sector . They should read this report. Yet again the third sector out performs the private and state sector in the delivery of social care services. Satisfaction with our services from the users out performs other sectors .

The message is clear . If you want citizen focused service then outsource them to the third sector.

And importantly there is a major reform underway in the provision of such care . Known as " personalisation" , an ugly word for a very important concept ; that people should have control over their own budgets for social care and be able to decide where money is spent.

So instead of the local council deciding what you need is a care worker to pop in for 15minutes on Wednesday every week you say that you want someone for half an hour or an hour less often , or you might want to spend this on enabling you to visit the theatre or distant relatives. Giving people control , enabling them to decide how best care is provided . Where pilots are going on the results are striking.

But the third sector may not be as prepared for this revolution as you would think . This could be a major opportunity for us . But the larger and more established charities will need to change and adapt. They will be tested as well as the local councils. Their services will be judged by the quality and personal approach they offer . Are we ready? The Chief Executive leadership role will be tested.

I think this agenda is hugely exciting for a sector that is innovative and bold. Chief Executives had better be prepared. So we need to aid the process. Our ACEVO Spring Conference on March 26th is devoted to exploring the issue .


Under the bold heading of ," A Brave New World " the conference is going to explore personaisation . And it will also form the backdrop to more work we will do in ACEVO on this issue . It will be core to how we reform public services. And a personal service puts the third sector in the driving seat . Where we should be.

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