Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Flood and Currie

Always good to get feedback from members. Tom Flood , CEO of BTCV and one of my acevo Board members takes me to task over my blog on social enterprise and David Freud's comment that none seem to have grown to scale. he says that BTCV , the largest conservation volunteering charity in the country , has a social enterprise that turned over 10m last year and helped over 8000 people get new skills . So that's a point. And are there others? Comments please.

And today I saw Robin Currie , the CEO of PSS, and a member of our arts and heritage special interest group , who was commenting on my blog on the mutant cows of Liverpool , which I should more properly refer to as superstarry lamb banana . Apparently these are now being auctioned off for thousands of pounds . So its ART !! And I called it a mutant cow.

Robin was at an all day event that acevo had organised with ACE , which is our sister organisation of Chief Executives of Government Agencies or quangos , as they are often known. This leadership event was the brain child of the Cabinet Secretary who wants to encourage more interchange between agencies and the third sector . it was a fascinating day and with a good exchange of views and opinions . We debated the role of the sector in delivering services , and great contributions from Ben Wittenberg of the DSC , Ann Blackmore of NCVO and the charming and erudite Alison Benjamin who is the Deputy Editor of Guardian Society ( a favourite paper of mine , especially when they wisely quote me ). Alison in particular was challenging . Do we always live up to our claims that we provide added value or are innovative or closer to our users? the evidence base is weak , though that does not , in my view , weaken the claims . It just means we need to gather the evidence - which is why we now have the newly established third Sector research centre , supported by acevo.

I left them at it midday as we had one of our acevo " Learning with Leaders" lunches with guest speaker Bert Massie , the Compact Commissioner .We were discussing the issue of whether the Commissioner post should be made statutory. A no brainer of a question obviously , but we do have to go through the motions of debating it ; after all we are the third sector in which no proposition however obvious is not worth an argument . I think we do still have a Flat Earth Society ? Simon Blake , acevo member who runs Brook is the chair of the Compact voice and a generally good thing , was there arguing a very coherent case on this. He arrives looking somewhat under dressed as often , though spectacularly charming as always.

Back to the office to deal with issues arising from the Catz Club story in Third Sector yesterday . We have to review this , but it is frustrating that these were all decisions taken by the previous board and contract holders so they know better than I the story behind all this. Greg Clark ( the Tory Third Sector spoke person ) is asking for answers on the case and we must satisfy him if we can . This is public money and organisations distributing it need to be transparent . The problem we have to recognise is the legally binding confidentiality clause on this that the previous Board agreed . I am discussing this with my Vice Chair , Harriett Baldwin who Chairs the Investment Committee and I will see Greg with Harriett and my CEO to talk this through ; he is entitled to raise this and we must answer him. I agree a press release on this .

And tonight I am putting the finishing touches to my presentation for the Away day acevo is holding with the Permanent Secretaries tomorrow . Gus O'Donnell , the Cabinet Secretary is chairing and somehow I feel I can't just do the usual " winging it" approach to speech making! I call it " The power of the Third Sector" . But the joint aim of the day is to look at how the sector can help Government deliver ,but also what the sector needs to do to be more effective working with Government. It will be an interesting day. We will hold it at a great social enterprise , and my members and the Permanent Secretaries are getting there on a bus provided by Hackney Community Transport. How cool is that ?

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