Friday, 14 May 2010

A Thousand years

Our oldest charity is probably King's School, Canterbury. I recently discovered that Italy's oldest Charity was one established in Florence to build the Cathedral of Santa Maria Novella. Similar charities were being formed in other major European countries. And people sometimes forget our role has always been in the provision of services to citizens and communities as well as in speaking up for the dispossessed, the marginalised and the voiceless.

So our sector has a long and honourable history. Our fortunes have ebbed and flowed. From a time when we were responsible for the provision of all public services to the decades after the Second World War when our role was stripped and we fell to the margins. But the next decade will see us regain our important role at the heart of society and national services.

Interesting to see that the public thinks the importance of charities will increase.

Sixty-two per cent of respondents to YouGov poll foresee a greater role for sector published today.

More than three people in five think the role of charities will become more important over the next few years, according to this new survey. In March, the polling organisation surveyed 2,133 people who did not work in the voluntary sector. Sixty-two per cent of respondents said they believed charities would play a more important role in the UK in the next few years.

So this sets the background for our sector discussions with the new Third Sector Minister, Nick Hurd MP. Nick is a class act. I have got to know him well, particularly over organising the recent Tory Summit. He is both very bright and articulate. He has flair, but I suspect he will not be in this role long as he progresses up the slippery pole! I look forward to seeing him with his new hat. We need to work in partnership to deliver on our "Big Offer". He will find ACEVO a practical support and candid friend. Of course there will be rocky times as we face the need to cut the national debt. But I am not an oppositionalist or placard waver. But feet will be held to the fire when it is necessary.

And Rt Hon Francis Maude MP is the Cabinet Office Minister. He also has a clear view on how the sector can help deliver more cost effective and citizen focused services.

A good time for us working in the sector. Onwards to the next glorious thousand years.