Monday 11 May 2009

ACEVO's moving too!

That is to say, upwards! Great news on Friday when we reported that 31 CEOs have joined up as members in one week. This is particularly great against the background of the recession. Indeed, when we put our budget together we had to make assumptions on membership income. As we have individual membership, rather than organisational we had to assume there may be a decline as CEOs lose their jobs or people think they need to cut back on subscriptions. But perhaps what is happening is that people realise that in a recession you need the support and advice of a CEO body that is dedicated to you and your interests. It is also a tribute to a very energetic and dynamic ACEVO staff team. It is their hard work and commitment that has driven this membership increase. It is one of the greatest joys of a CEO to lead a talented team and I realise I'm lucky to do so. It is interesting that when people visit our ACEVO office in Holborn they often comment on the buzz and fun atmosphere we have. Long may it continue!

Well, on the home front I'm now through about 150 of the 200 boxes! And Sparkles is settling in well with a front and back garden to run in. She prefers the front it seems as there are more people walking by to amuse her. And I discover from my new neighbour that the previous owner was a dog handler at the Prison and had two dogs in kennels in the garden; drugs and explosives! No wonder my Hound feels at home.

And the magnificent Brockwell Park, pride and joy of South London and the jewel in the crown of the great London Borough of Lambeth is near by. The Community Greenhouse Project is holding an open day to sell plants and I stagger home, Sparkles leading the way, clutching bags of vegetable plants; a fine selection of tomatoes, artichokes, chard, runner beans etc. A grape vine and blackberry and raspberry canes complete the picture. I shall farm organically obviously.

The Greenhouse Project is a third sector community project and a splendid one at that. This is the type of project we need more of. It is exactly the type of scheme we should be promoting as part of the new Future jobs Fund (I have a meeting of the steering group later today). There is often a huge vitality in community run organisations and they are exactly the type of group we must encourage and grow. They often lack effective infrastructure and funding. These are groups we should look to support with social finance. The work of the Adventure Capital Fund has shown the potential. And don't think that because this a "community" project it has to be small scale. They are often only small because of the difficulty in funding; both revenue and capital. So roll on the Social Investment Bank to give a real boost to the community sector.

The Future Jobs Taskforce I have established in partnership with the Social Enterprise Coalition and the Community Alliance will meet on Wednesday, before our seminar with James Purnell MP. I have various calls today to gather ideas before the steering group at DWP. This work will be a test for our sector. We need to show we can deliver. ACEVO has commissioned work from Will Hutton and the Work Foundation to explore how the sector can create jobs and help lead recovery. We will present ideas at thre Recession Summit, now delayed to June 12th.

Whilst unpacking boxes I have been entertained by Radio 4 and one useful nugget of information is that there is to be a "Booker" for Blogs. Now that's an idea. But would mine be a joint entry, along with Robin Bogg?

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