Thursday, 27 May 2010

Big Society in the Cotswolds

What could be more appropriate? Discussing BIG Soc in the constituency of David Cameron MP !

The annual Awayday of the Adventure Capital Fund, the charity that makes loans to community enterprise and is part of the Social Investment Business, took place yesterday in Kingham.

It's a charity that has only been going for eight years but was a pioneer in getting social finance into community enterprise and helping them grow. It has an "engaged investor" approach as it is very clear that community organisations don't just need loans they need capacity building support. Perhaps infrastructure is out of fashion but actually its an essential ingredient for growth.

Muhammad Yunus in his brilliant book on setting up social enterprise said you need a framework and goodwill/passion. Goodwill and passion on its own won't do it. So for all those parents wanting to run their own schools; yes you can do it but enthusiasm alone is not sufficient.who will provide the framework? It was one of the issues we talked about: how can we help provide capital to support this enterprise.

Kingham Church

We debated how we help put framework round the Big Society ideas. The fresh Cotswold air stimulated our thinking and the excellent Cotswold fare fed our brains.

The only sad part for all my Trustees was that because it was Kingham, the Blessed Hound was not able to attend. She has been at many of the previous Awaydays and has much enjoyed taking advantage of Trustees' dinners.

And before "anon" comments on cost I can tell you all this was at a most reasonable rural rate, as you would expect. None of that conference hotel rip off for us!

And during the course of the day I work on my speech for tomorrow on BIGsoc. I get to draft six and some kindly soul on my Trustee Board says "have you timed it"? I say no. She says "allow two minutes per page". So that's 50 minutes then. Good job we are providing drink for the comatose tomorrow...and my Deputy and Director of Strategy, hearing this, fled to New York where they have been sending me annoying photos of them enjoying themselves.

Yippee. ID cards dead! Not before time. What we could have done with the vast sums of money poured into this disgraceful scheme to attack our ancient liberties. I have always taken pride when I travel, especially in the States, of informing those that demand ID cards to allow you access to meetings, events etc that we don't do that sort of thing in England so I don't have one! And never will! Wonderful story in papers today of civil servant from Home Office who tries to use her ID card (purchased for £40) to prove identity only to be told they wouldn't accept it. Hah!

And finally, interesting to be told by Dame Denise Platt, one of our Trustees and on the Parliamentary watchdog, that the fuss about no one earning more than the PM, ie £142k, ignores the fact that the PM also gets his MP salary as well. So in fact earns £205k! As you can't be PM without also being an MP the £142k benchmark is somewhat spurious. That will at least reassure some of our Union General Secretaries amongst others! Interesting. Not many people know that!

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