Wednesday 23 November 2011

Europe gets behind social investment

It's not often you find yourself sat next to the President of the European Commission- Jose Barroso! I was at a major conference on social enterprise and social innovation at the Commission on Friday. They were announcing their new policy to support civil society across Europe together with a new social investment fund.

Euclid and the SIB were closely involved in the lead up to the announcement and the planning of the day( it was chaired by Paul Adamson who sits on the Euclid board). The UK leads the field in the development of social finance and Ronnie Cohen made an impressive and impassioned speech about the power of loans to transform our sector.

A lot of the top brass were there. 2 commissioners; Barnier ( internal markets) came over for a chat. He said " I know you" which made me wonder if MI5 had passed on the file!

The European Invesment bank is also launching a new social finance fund of funds. At long last Europe seems to have got behind the growth of the third sector. Whilst the actual policy document is confused and opaque in a way only the EU Commission can manage its a strong start and a firm indication that the EU sees this as a major plank to develop.

Nick Hurd spoke on behalf of the UK government. He was almost Churchillian (obviously been on a FCO briefing!).And, as if you can't get enough of Nick, I was making a speech with him on monday morning at the launch of the Transition Institute ( I'm a board member). This is an exciting new initiative , thought up by the dynamic Allison Ogden-Newton of Social Enterprise London.

Then in the afternoon I was speaking with Nick on Europe and the sector at an event organised in Europe house in Smith Square. This was part of a programme that the strategic partners lead for the Cabinet Office. ACEVO and Euclid lead on Europe for the strategic partners but we work closeley with ncvo and so this was a 4 way collaboration between Euclid and ACEVO, ncvo and the OCS. A good event. Over 100 delegates talking about funding and the need for the EU to reform the processes of the structural funds.

And talking of collaboration my chair and I then went off for dinner with the Chair+CEO of ncvo. Martyn Lewis was talking about our journey together at our ACEVO conference last week. And no journey can begin without sustenance; so joint dining will lead to more joint work!

And yet more dining last night; the Guardian Public Sector awards. A glittering occassion when public services are celebrated and awarded. It was great that the overall winner of the awards was a third sector organisation! I was there to give the award for volunteering. It went to Hull Fire and Civil Defence Authority. A splendid body of folk who have really ramped up volunteering and given professional support to it. Allison Ogden-Newton texted me to say "was this the first time Bubb had been up on stage, in the spotlight before hundreds of folk and not said a word?"

And , thank goodness, unlike the many third sector award ceremonies this one ended at the civilised hour of 10.30 so a quick taxi back to Brixton meant I got my usual beauty sleep and refreshed for battles ahead.

Commissioner Barnier

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