Thursday, 13 June 2013

Health, campaigning and the networking round.

Well, the week began with an enlightening meeting with Nick Hurd MP. A general round up of what's happening in ACEVO and how we can help push forward the Open Public Services agenda. We even touched on the recent PASC report and I made clear my views!  A useful reminder of how important it is to defend charity campaigning came yesterday from the Cadbury Barrow Trust.

Debbie Pippard, their Head of Programmes, said there needs to be more leadership and action on the matter, after the Trust recently came under attack from some corners of the press for its funding to help migrants.

Pippard warned that there was an increasing hostility in Parliament and other places to the campaigning role of charities. She added that the recent scandals around for-profit groups lobbying Parliamentarians had muddied the waters: “The actions of a few lobbying companies and the campaigning of charities are being seen as one and the same,” she said.

Barrow Cadbury Trust and the Diana Fund have recently been attacked in the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph for their funding to support migrants in the UK. The Daily Mail has said the Diana Fund had been “cynically hijacked by the Left”, while the Daily Telegraph questions why taxpayers are supporting “pro-immigration” charities.

Pippard said the tone of pieces such as these promoted the ideas that only frontline service delivery organisations were charitable and illegitimised any campaign working to address structural issues in the society. “The charity sector has a role to play in better explaining why running a soup kitchen is not the same as tackling poverty in a structural way.”

Hear, hear. And ACEVO will be at the forefront providing leadership on this.

Tuesday was a little more sedate. I was at an annual reception for Saxton Bamfylde at the gorgeous V+A. I had my Director of Policy, Ralph Michell, in tow as we were going on to dinner so I could thank him for his work with ACEVO; for alas he is deserting me for the Cabinet Office. After 6 years, such a short time in one so young! He has been such a star; huge intellect coupled with a practical bent that delivers strategy into action. I will miss him.  But a good voice in the OCS where he will work on public service reform. And amusing to note re: silly Unite campaign on interns, he started as an intern at ACEVO. Like Seb Elsworth before him. I noted a sarcastic letter in Third Sector recently wondering how many of ACEVO's interns had gone onto jobs. Well, that’s 2 for you.

Wednesday was my health speech (blogged yesterday). I had to deliver my masterpiece over a fire alarm in the Royal Free Hospital and it went on for 10 minutes. Still, it had finished by the time of my peroration!

 Then off to a meeting in the Commons with old friend Gordon Marsden MP followed by dinner in the Lords with Jeremy Hunt MP. We sat looking out over to Tommies hospital- founded as a charity hospital centuries ago and he revealed that he had been born at Tommies and his mother had been a nurse there!

So a leisurely day today in Cambridge. I'm interviewing an intern as it happens...

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