Well, one of those weeks, culminating in my annual Board dinner and away day; and this year coupled with our official office opening!
But good amidst all this to meet up with a member who demonstrates the value and importance of volunteering and the need for that to be managed! Paul Boissier, the CEO of RNLI leads an organiation of 35,000 dedicated lifesavers with an organised staff of 1000. Two points to make here. Volunteering to be on a lifeboat requires significant dedication and skill. That requires training and support. Government continually forget the costs and logistics of running a volunteer organisation. The work of RNLI requires a sophisticated fundraising team as they get no money from Government (nor do they seek it) and a strong full time staff team who handle the training and support and the administration of a great British institution.
Wednesday I spoke at a major Health Conference talking about the importance of commissioning the third sector to deliver services and to articulate service users needs and demands.
I referenced the interesting work of the neurological commissioning coalition which is offering to analyse the needs of people with such conditions for the CCGs so that they can ensure both a proper servcie for them and to ensure cost efficiencies. One example the fine representative of Parkinsons gave was in Oxfordshire where poor management of the conditions of 2 people led to emergency admissions to hospital at a cost of £1m whereas effective and active management would cost £12,000 a year.
I was, however, somewhat worried to hear from the DH that the new commissioning support units that will help the new CCGs will be employing....10,000 staff. Surely too many? What will they all do , apart from looking over the shoulders of the CCGs? Don't we want to see local decision making? GPs in charge ?
Still, I was off to a late lunch with an old friend James Purnell ( the great former SoS for work and pensions under Tony Blair ). He is working as a consultant to the magnificent Boston Consulting Group; with Adrian Brown who was also with us. An interesting discussion on the fate of the Work Programme! And I vented my opinions about the need for Labour to get a grip on their policy on health, and the role of the third sector as this appears to be disappearing back into the dark ages.
Our annual Board dinner was at CCLA , by appointment, purveyors of financial services to our sector. Our old friend Andrew Robinson had kindly laid on a fine repaste. He knows too well the refined tastes of the ACEVO Board ( not to mention its CEO ) and we were well fed and watered. And so my Board were in fine form for their away day session at KPMG. Direction and discussion about our plans for the next 3 years.
Then finally to the new ACEVO office, and our opening and plaque unveiling which was done by our Chair, Baroness Hayter and Theirry Weisphaut (the President of Euclid). Diane Hayter was one of our founding members 25 years ago. Indeed another Baroness , Jill Pitkeathly, who was also one of our founders, was also present. I think any gathering of celebration is enhanced by the presence of Baronesses! We were also joined by distinguished guests from the sector; great to see Steve Wyler of Locality and Joe Irvin of NAVCA who were there to fly the umbrella flag! And most notable guest of all? The Hound; making her first visit to the office. She was on fine form exploring the deep recesses of the rooms and begging for canapes!
So now I'm relaxing. Friday. Paperwork. Emails. Phone calls. Life is never dull in ACEVO!