It's always been a bit of a misnomer that we call our national sickness service the NHS. As we know, good health and wellbeing is not simply delivered in hospitals but in the community; in public health and environmental protection and in the work of the charity and voluntary sector. One of the problems with our current system is that hospitals have no real connection in prevention work or support to people with long term conditions. That needs to change and it is one of the reasons ACEVO is working with the Foundation Trust Network. Public health and the role of councils in promoting health and well being is one of the key aspects of the recent Health Act and it is welcome.
Had a great meeting with Duncan Selbie who is the new CEO of the Public Health England. We were as one in agreeing the third sector must be at the forefront, with councils, in promoting public health. ACEVO will be working closely with him in pushing this agenda. It matters!
It has been an education reading some of the more rabid tweets and comments on my letter to the PM. For example some comments from the far right of the Tory party claimed most charities are "funded by the taxpayer". What they fail to understand is that the vast majority of the money charites get from councils or the State is in return for contracted services; for social care, children, employment and training and so forth. If this means we are funded by the taxpayer then large swathes of the private sector is too and they should be attacking Serco, Capita etc.
Some of the green ink brigade are also much exercised by the fact that charity CEOs seem to get paid at a professional level. One comment peddled the myth that our average salary is 160k. As if!!! A mere glance at ACEVO's Pay Survey shows it is actually 60k. But some of this is just highly amusing; as for example one commentator who pointed out I worked for Jack Jones in my youth, "just a phone call away from the Kremlin" it commented. Still, it makes a change to be denounced as a crypto communist as opposed to the claims by one large trade union that I am an arch privatiser! I reckon that means I must have got things right!
But on the other hand I have had a lot of supportive comments and emails from members who are glad ACEVO is saying what needs to be said and doing what we must do to hold the Government's "feet to the fire".
One thing is for sure. This is all going to get much more heated. We can expect many more attacks. More personal abuse. But whatever happens, let's not be put off telling it like it is. We speak for the vulnerable and marginalised. Those who do not have a voice. We must continue to highlight the harm that welfare changes are making and not be put off by the nasty side of the current debate on shirkers or strivers. And I'm sure in this role we can rely on the Charity Commission to promote and protect our independent voice.
2013 is going to be interesting!