The tour continues. This time with silver jubilee meetings in 2 great cities; Newcastle and York. A range of members from across our very diverse membership. So in York we had John Walker the CEO of the York Archaeological Trust, Mike Pratt of the Northumberland Wildlife Trust and Jenny Saunders of the National Energy Association, as well as members from health and welfare, education and advocacy etc.
Interesting to pop into The Minster to see the work they are doing on restoration. It is the biggest restoration project curently underway in Europe. And it is worth noting that this is made possible by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Money from the lottery that will help restore a magnificent piece of our heritage and one that gives comfort to millions of people. So when Mr Muller of the Health Lottery is busy denigrating the lottery for supporting good causes other than health he should remember what brilliant work the national lottery does supporting all good causes.
We met in the chocolate Factory, courtesy of our corporate lawyer partners Dickinson Dees! It was the site of Terry's chocolate orange, now shamefully produced by the wretched american Kraft company - they who cloed Terry's of York. Shame on them. And in fact we met in the very boardroom where the prototype chocolate orange was first presented. Acevo meetings are not just interesting for the people who come but the places we meet. In Newcastle we overlooked the splendid Millennium Bridge and the Baltic Centre ( yet more good lottery money having been used for good effect!).
Being in newcastle I took the opportunity to go to see one of SIB investments; St Oswolds Hospice . Visiting restores your faith in the third sector and the need for the NHS to commission us more. Here we gave a loan to enable building for a therapy centre and a day centre so they can expand their work beyond just providing beds for the final journey. Inspirational staff. Beautiful surroundings and they provide the care and support people need that goes beyond the purely medical. Complimentary therapies , massage and listening that the medical model NHS just don't get or do. The sort of loan that we can be very proud of. Listening to the Report out today from the Commission on old age reminded me that staff attitudes and behaviour is so important.
Skills for Life is a great charity working with people with severe learning difficulties in Newcastle. They provide advice and advocacy but their core role is to empower their clients to demand the services they need (so work on personal budgets but also on how to use your vote and voice in the democratic process). Here our loan developed a splendid building which is both a haven and a resource.
And my visits paid off because last night I was on Newsnight-on a panel to talk about the Health Bill and I was able to make an impassioned plea to commission hospices and the great cancer charities more.