Tuesday 6 January 2009

Freezing but empowered...

It was certainly a shock returning from a hot and beautiful Zanzibar to a damp and cold London . But the bracing air of the South Devon coast, where I spent the New Year, reminded me that England , though cold , has much to offer in glorious scenery.I was with most of my family in Hope Cove and I was able to catch up on Christmas pudding and all that Christmas stuff that didn't quite feature on the Zanzibari menus. I think it might be just possible to eat too much lobster . I had no less than 2 large Indian Ocean lobsters for Boxing Day in the beautifull Hotel Serena in StoneTown , Zanzibar ; but then I was clelebrating my Name Day !

And good to report that the Bubb clan was out in force volunteering over Christmas . No less than 7 Bubbs were helping at the Crisis centre in South London ( my lovely neice had 3 offers of marriage , 2 of them from men ) and 3 Bubbs were out with the sex workers on their Christmas Carol singing around Soho .My sister was commenting on the somewhat strange clothes of one of the carol singers who appeared to be wearing trousers with no covering to the posterior. Somewhat cold for a December as she said.

It is a pertinent fact for the Chancellor to ponder that Crisis reckon that the value that their volunteers represent to the economy is £4.5 million. This is a firm indication of the strength of our sector and why the Government must now come up with a £500 million emergency fund to support our work in tackling the recession . Alistair please note .

Back to work with a vengeance . A good break is always a time both for rest and for thinking. Reflecting on the recession it is now clear to me that the real challenge for the sector may well lie in the savage spending cuts that will be taking place in government spending from 2010 . The current Chancellor has been clear that the bank bail out and all the other financial measures taken will have to be paid for. And the Opposition have taken an even more extreme view on the need for cutting public spending . This is bound to impact on the sector , both directly in our income streams , but also indirectly in the effects on our beneficiaries and clients. We all know that how the system works is that the public sector generally looks after its own . Any thing that looks discretionary goes. We are often the " discretionary". And this is compounded by a cynical view that charities will just manage and cope because of our strong mission focus. This is when local council's get tested on their commitment to full cost recovery .

We are now in heavy preparation for our AGM and Parliamentary Reception on January 19th in the House of Commons.Over 200 signed up already . Hope they do not all have questions on the accounts! This year it is more exciting than usual as we announce our new ACEVO Chair . John Low , who has been a real powerhouse of support for the sector and ACEVO, steps down after his 4 year stint ends and a new Chair takes up the reigns. Our AGM will celebrate a hugely successful year for the organisation . Chief Executives need a strong voice at the centre to promote and to stand up for them in the current financial crisis. ACEVO does that . And we are also implementing a new management structure in acevo which will make strong use of both me and my talented deputy Dr Kyle and enable me to concentrate even more on the strategic direction and "thought leadership "role that acevo must play in testing times. We have also been able to promote talent .I think ACEVO is known for its talented and dynamic staff group. A real " can do " approach which works hard to help members.

And I am proud that some of the talent that ACEVO has nurtured is now out there in the sector in lead jobs ; Nick Aldridge at Mission Fish as CEO and Gail Scott Spicer , my previous Deputy, as Communications Director at the Scouts working with the excellent Mr Twine!I do not however encourage my talented people to go too quickly , or without permission!! We are , of course ,a small team but with huge ambition . It is always a privilege for a CEO to lead a team that is achieving.

Epiphany has come and gone and the cards are down . But there are just a few I could not put away and these attractive ones are still out . And I know this is sad , but the card from Tony and Cherie is still on my desk! I think that given the appalling events in the Gaza we are lucky to have a person of such talent and experience playing a leading role in trying to get peace. I heard Tony Blair on "Today "in the week . He really was on top form ; lucid , passionate and engaged. But whether that is enough to get a much needed ceasefire must be doubtful. That the Holy Land should be in such turmoil at this time is a tragedy. Many members are affected , either through the humanitarian or development work they do or through family links on both sides in Israel and Palestine.

But to end on a more cheery note ; you will be delighted to know that the Bubb Blog is to be saved for the Nation. The British Library have a web archive and they want to include my blog in that . Imagine; in 100 years time, a PHd student doing research on the third sector and ruminating over the Bubb opinions and thoughts. Just hope they have an old copy of Who's Who to hand to work out who all those people I meet are!

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