Sunday, 18 May 2008

social entreprise,Oxfam and a weary Sunday morn !

The Social Enterprise movement has brought a breath of fresh air to the third sector. At heart , the central proposition is that making a profit is a good thing. Trading for a social return . It has certainly become fashionable as politicians and Government rally to the cause . Why we even have Social Enterprise units in various government departments.
But the idea is not new . Charities have been trading for social returns for centuries. There was a 16th century Bishop of London who kept a money chest so that he could loan out to good causes . And the fact is that most " social enterprises " are actually registered charities.

I was reminded of this by the fact that this weekend is the 60th anniversary of the opening of the world's first charity shop ; Oxfam , Broad St , Oxford. They are holding a series of celebrations to mark the anniversary . And if charity shops are not social enterprises , what are ?

The story of how it happened is fascinating. Joe Mitty was Oxfam's first paid employee; responsible for admin and accounts . 60 years ago they opened the Broad St shop as a collection centre for items they were sending to war ravaged Europe.
Mitty realised quickly that they could sell goods to raise money so he made the shop more professional , smartening it up and it quickly started bringing in money . Since then oxfam have raised over 500m for the cause . And other charities have followed in their steps. Now there are over 7500 shops and with an annual turnover of over 550 ml .

acevo has a large number of Social Enterprise Chief Executives as members . Indeed the charming , the magnificent , the wonderful Alison Ogden Newton , the CEO of Social Enterprise London is acevo's Vice Chair. I cannot resist a tale that illustrates the talent of Alison . She was interviewing with me . We had a difficult choice. There were 2 good candidates. Alison summed up our dilemma. She said do we want this season's must have designer fashion accessory or do we want the trusty old suit ? Well , acevo is so not " old suit " .The choice was clear.

The No 74 bus . It has shot to fame after the interesting revelations by Cherie Blair of the goings on in the top deck ! Oh no , I thought , too much information . Would I ever look at No 74 bus in the face again , let alone board the upper deck . But be not afered. This 74 Route master has been replaced by a single decker. And it is now the 274.

I see that Cherie has been getting criticism from the lofty world of the legal establishment .His honour Mr Justice Pompous has opined that Cherie has brought the legal profession into disrepute . Goodness , you can just imagine Mr Justice Pompous at breakfast ; " sex" , "contraceptives " ...he must have been choking on his cornflakes. I wonder if this is one of those judges who bring the legal profession into disrepute with the great British public by asking " who are the Beatles ? "

Lets here it for salacious gossip and tittle tattle.I have thoroughly enjoyed the book extracts and I'm buying the real thing tomorrow. Don't be fooled by the noise . This is a seriously strong and talented woman .

I am often criticised for my over use of the blackberry . And it is true . I am in love with my little machine and I email at all times of the day and night. If you have a good idea , it needs to be disseminated . And immediately. I am always amused to discover just how many other people are similarly addicted . Why I had an email from the erudite Guardian journalist Polly Toynbee at 22.43 on Friday evening.And all through the weekend I get messages from staff and colleagues.

Mind you Saturday evening was an exception . I had read ( courtesy of the Saturday Daily Telegraph ) that Laurent Perrier have now brought out an ultra brut champagne . No added sugar at all . Just the thing for a diabetic I thought and so shared a bottle with my best friend at Kettners that evening. And then it was dinner and a superb Chassagne Montrachet , followed by a 1988 Claret . Now , It may be remarked , what is a charity chief executive doing in such a gross display of gourmandising ? Well all I can say is that when I was first appointed to a job as the Research Officer for the Transport and General Workers Union ( under the great Jack Jones ) I remember a trusty Union Official , known for his taste in things fine telling me , " remember Steve , nothing is too good for the workers. " And Nye Bevan was fond of Bollinger. So my view is that nothing is too good for the third sector .
Mind you I felt a bit delicate this morning.

No comments: