Thursday, 29 May 2008

a campainging third sector

Mary Whitehouse.Did you see the programme on BBC2 last night . It was fantastic, and not just because the brilliant Julie Walters was starring. I nearly did not watch this on principle. i was a teenager in the 60s ! To be precise i became a teenager in 1965. And I was well into the sixties. the loon pants and the tie die T-Shirt , ( kindly supplied by my indulgent parents ) and the smelly Afghan coat and the bead necklace I bought in the Kings Rd. What a sight that must have been !
So Iobviously thoroughly disapproved of Mrs Whitehouse.
But what was fascinating about the programme was how it charted the growth of a campaigning third sector body ; starting off with a charismatic leader ( love her or hate her ), a few like minded friends and the kitchen table . the postal orders rolling in ( do they still have postal orders ; my aunts used to send me them for birthdays ! ) and the driving ambition and determination against the odds. I know of lots of such third sector bodies . In many ways this sums up the brilliance of our " civil society " where people come together to fight and campaign for change. Think of Dame Cecily Saunders , despairing of the bad treatment of people who were dying on the wards at St Thomas's and so founding the remarkable Hospice movement.
Or Jo Mitty setting up the first Oxfam shop who said he was driven by , as he said, " rage and passion ; rage because of the inequality and injustice in the world and a passion to do something about it ."
of course I still think Mrs Whitehouse was wrong overall , but maybe she had a point on the violence issue ?

There is also a brilliant vignette in the programme about the Chair and Chief Executive relationship . Sir Hugh Greene , CEO of the BBC does not get on with his new Chair . The Chair instructs him to drop a programme . The CEO refuses to listen . He goes.Oh dear.

Another of our dinners for key players and Chief Executives from the sector to talk about the role of FutureBuilders. A great evening with the likes of Fiona Blacke of the National Youth Agency , Jon Bland from Social Enterprise , Cliff Prior of UnLtd and others. fantastic people doing fantastic things. One of the interesting points to emerge from the discussion was that we really need to be upping our game and persuading state bodies to commission things they don't yet know they need from the sector.Being proactive about where we see services we know we can provide better , rather than merely being the inactive recipients of tenders.

On the way to the dinner I bump into (literally ) the Chair of the Labour Party ; one Dianne Hayter . She is one of the founders of acevo and has had a range of Chief Executive jobs in the third sector. A feisty and bubbly individual who has done great things in our sector . Whether she can pull the labour Part's fortunes around is another matter. She is on her way to the Cuban Embassy ; as you do , and is lost . Obviously I know exactly where the Embassy is ; as I would .i direct her there.


Anonymous said...

I just discovered your blog, and I am deeply impressed! CEO 2.0, I see!

Really entertaining and informative. Congratulations. Hope to get a chance to see you when I am back in the UK in July...


simontcope said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
simontcope said...

Yes you can still buy postal orders:

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I’m not sure about the Mary Whitehouse thing. I mean it’s still a bit of a mixture of charismatic individual and unique circumstance coming together isn’t it? Granted the telly is bound to put the emphasis on the individual but it’s important to remember that this is because telly is a limited visual medium and it’s easier to film that than a ‘historic juncture’. Apart from that I think you've captured the mood of the moment, except to add that you never quite forget the smell of a damp Afghan coat do you?