Friday, 20 June 2014

Bad food and MPs...

Well done to Michael Gove MP for the new guidelines on food in schools, cutting out fries and sugary drinks. High time too, as obesity among kids soars and the rise in cases of diabetes and pre-diabetes is increasing significantly. And what may you ask is our health service doing about it? 

Well, in hospitals, sweet nothing as they say. Walk into most hospitals and the tempting offers on chocs and coke from vending machines and cafes are all around. Why, Guys hospital even has a McDonalds on the premises. And at Tommies you walk in past an array of retail outlets piled to the gunwales with unhealthy food options. It's time hospitals got on message. I realise they are turning a fast buck on these outlets but I thought they were about improving our health! Could Jeremy Hunt take a leaf out of Michael Gove's book on this? And let's face it. Most elderly people in hospital for a long period emerge malnourished - Age UK has run their excellent campaign against malnutrition in hospitals for almost 10 years now. Hospitals just don't get good food, let alone healthy food. End of rant. 

We had a Social Investment Business reception at the House of Commons this week (more sticky buns on offer there; I said no!). We were introducing some of our investees to MPs and we had a good cross-section of Members from all parties, as well as Ministers and their Shadows. Nick Hurd MP gave a great speech and emphasised the point I had made about how social finance is one of those subjects where you do find cross-party consensus. The Big Society Capital started off as a Labour idea, but was taken up enthusiastically by the Conservatives, and David Cameron is a great advocate of social investment. And Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd has been a great champion for our sector. He has a lovely approach to the role which combines an oft laconic style with wit and passion for the sector. He even went so far as to describe me as ‘an institution’. Obviously kind comments by him about me simply reinforce my view he is a perceptive chap.

The event was sponsored by Crispin Blunt MP, a former Prisons Minister and a non-exec on my Social Investment Business Board. His comments on a range of issues make great common sense, as I told him, now that he has been freed from the cares of office! But the fun of this event was in meeting the many charities and social enterprises that have taken loans to promote their ambitions. 

SIB has made over £350m worth of social investment to over 1000 organisations. This makes us the UK's largest social investor. I'm chuffed to be their Chair. And in the spirit of keeping fit I can report I spent an hour in the Brixton gym last night. Needed to after that rather splendid dinner at the Cass Business School on Wednesday.

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