This blog promises to reveal the inside track of a third sector leader influencing in Whitehall, championing professionalism and causing a stir.
Sir Stephen Bubb is director of Charity Futures, which promotes better charity governance and leadership. He was formerly Chief Executive of ACEVO (Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations) until 2016.
His blog is part of the British Library’s national blog archive.
Wednesday, 24 June 2015
Just coming back from an inspirational visit to see the
work of Young Epilepsy at their base in Lingfield. Here they run a school and
college for people with the most difficult of forms of epilepsy, provide
residential homes, hospital and diagnostic faculties, a farm and
horticultural centre. Set up in the 19th
century by 2 Anglican priests who bought the magnificent site for £5k it has
grown and adapted to modern day demands for a particularly vulnerable community
who cannot prosper or learn in mainstream schooling and who need high levels of
emotional support and care by highly professional staff and teachers. They also
do important research and they campaign for a better deal for young people with epilepsy.
Epilepsy is the most common childhood neurological
disorder. I didn't know this but on average there's one diagnosed child in
every primary school and five in every secondary school. It's a condition that
is widely misunderstood and I have to say I found my visit hugely educational
about the problems and challenges young people face here. And good to hear
first hand from the headteacher about how much progress can be made from, for
example, the young lad who arrived feeling isolated and alone, unable to do
much on his own and not wanting to learn
but who thrived in an atmosphere where he was with other young people with the
same challenges and a highly skilled group of teachers who understood how to
I was extremely
impressed by what Young Epilepsy are
doing. It was a pleasure meeting, albeit briefly, some of the talented team
there; the creative artists, the band on the pirate ship, the headteacher and
one of the consultants who ran through brain scans with me to demonstrate the
effects of spasms and fits on a persons' life chances.
At winter Narnia- in the creative arts area of the
At the new barbecue and patio area at the college
There is much debate about residential provision. After
my Winterbourne work I am a particular skeptic but I could see here how that is
important in development terms. What I liked was the way for older pupils or
students they have aimed to create a student campus feel to the accommodation
that is nearby the college they attend. And of course for the many young people
and students here - over 200 - this will range from those who don't stay, those
who live in term time and those, a much smaller number, that are there 52 weeks. They are
particularly keen that the family link is maintained in those cases.
I was struck by the commitment and enthusiasm for the
task that people I met brought to their job. It brought home to me again how
people in our charity sector are motivated by a vocation and passion for what
they do. And what a difference they can make to people's lives and well being.
It was good for me to see first hand the work being done and the impressive spread of the
facilities and resources at this 60 acre
site at Lingfield. This is vital to a
very vulnerable community.
It puts in context the demands for curbs on fundraising - this is a charity that receives significant funding from health and local
government but that spend is under pressure. Many councils now want to limit
what is spent. So much of what they do is paid for from the generosity of the
public. And fundraising curbs that damage the ability of charities to fund
raise from the public could harm beneficiaries. The challenge for charities
like Young Epilepsy in the face of coming budget cuts is not to be