Monday, 9 June 2008

Inconvenient Truths

Getting forgetful...the price you pay as you get older I guess ? I was busy blogging about the new members of the FutureBuilders Board and forgot one of the new stars ; Chris Banks , who is the Chair of the LSC ,( the Learning and Skills Council ) the largest of our many quangos . He has a distinguished career in industry , lately as Managing Director of Pepsi UK. His obvious interest in up skilling and capacity building will be a great asset.

Chris Pond , who chairs Capacity Builders , is impressed when I run through my new Board members over lunch at Canary Wharf. We agree there is much more our 2 organisations must do together . i outline my ideas for a Social Incestment and development bank which he likes. I am building a consensus for this approach and it is benig discussed at the very top soon !

Another example of my failing powers was revealed on Saturday when I got a phone call from my nephew Alexander who said was everything OK for lunch Sunday ? Now perhaps the failure to recall my generous offer may have been connected to the imbibing of a tad too much Cotes du Rhone at the Trout last week ? But it was a delight to welcome him ( and his 3 fellow students from Christ Church , which necessitated a quick trip to our wonderful Charlbury co-op ) Alex and his friends are in their last week at Oxford . They have completed their 3 year studies and have taken Schools and next week go down . A serious landmark for them. So I join them at Leavers Evensong at Christ Church , which is also my old Oxford College.

The choir at Christ Church has a huge international standing . The setting of Byrd and the Gibbons anthem are sublime , and can only be sung by a top choir owing to the need for a quantity of counter tenors , a somewhat specialist talent these days . My nephew may be going down from Christ Church but not from Oxford . He is taking an Msc at Exeter College in September , and then , if his First is of sufficient quality may try for All Souls , the ultimate academic distinction.

Monday . What a happy morning as I was listening to the Today programme making my porridge. The UK's Children's Commissioners are speaking about the criminalisation of youth. Britain detains more children than any other country in Western Europe. The figures are a disgrace. 2900 under 18s locked up in the past year. 30 children have died in custody since 1990. What we all know , and what they confirm , is that antisocial behaviour legislation has resulted in more children being drawn into the criminal justice system .

Even the Times , in their editorial comments on a country where " an ASBO culture has criminalised thousands of youngsters for often trifling transgressions."

" Using a show of authoritative toughness to tame teenagers who are creating havoc by a show of street level toughness is not just paradoxical , it has also proved tragically unprofitable. "

And the Times rightly point that the answer often lies in the alternative approaches often spearheaded by third sector organisations.

So 3 cheers for the improbably named Sir Al Ansley-Green , the Children's Commissioner for England . Lets hope your report is required reading for the Prime Minister and Home Secretary before they embark on next weeks new legislative initiative on knives , drink etc . You sow what you reap . Chasing the next headline has its consequences. Leadership requires standing up to The Editors of the Sun and Mail .

And the sector's role in speaking out , telling inconvenient truth , being awkward , challenging the incorrect consensus remains as strong aas ever . We had the 6 monthly gathering of the sector's top 20 Chief Executives ,ably led over dinner at the Royal Commonwealth Club by Mein Host ; the affable Stuart Etherington . Clare Tickell argues we have to have courage to challenge if we are to remain true to our mission . It is our historic role and ever more necessary to challenge the political consensus that is drawing ever more people into the justice system . As Ed Miliband has said so clearly , we must bite the hand that feeds us .

I do that to the waiter who tries to give me a mango baked alaska . Just too too much sugar ; fruit salad thank you .

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