Monday 4 May 2009

Bank Holidays!

Well,you may be in the garden doing the roses , or taking the dog for a walk , but I'm in The Czech republic speaking at an EU Conference : "Europe of Engaged Citizens" . I speak at the opening session about the role of NGOs in a recession . I take the theme ; Don't waste a good crisis. So whilst not downplaying the trauma of falling donations and rising demand I stress the opportunities for expanding what we do , for more social enterprise and making the case for change in our systems.

We talk about the example of the Future Jobs Fund in the UK. I also talk about the need for a campaign to reform European funding . EUCLID , our European partnership for third sector leaders , is in active discussion with the EU to set up a civil society working group within the active citizenship programme . The proposal will be made official on June 11 th . There are major problems with Euro funding which cause bureaucracy in Brussels and headaches for ngos. They do not recognise full cost recovery and have a non profit approach which hinders applications . This must change. EUCLID is building a coalition for change , and we are signing up partners at this conference , which is an official conference as part of the Czech Presidency.

The conference is in Brno , in Moravia : not a recommended holiday destination, but I arrived via Prague , which is one of the most beautiful cities of Europe . I pay a pilgrimage to the Image of the Baby Jesus of Prague , one of the most famous images of the universal Catholic Church and join a long line of pilgrims from the Philippines to pay respects . I send an image of the statue to my Directors Group to provide them with protection and blessing .

Now whilst Brno may not be beautiful we are encouraged by the Host to " taste the joys of our Moravian wines ". Well indeed I shall . Indeed already have.

But the effects of the recession are having an impact in the UK and across Europe. The most recent research from NCVO says that a fifth of charities they surveyed are planning job cuts : though c.f.recent blog on ncvo report re " crying wolf ". I think this does demonstrate the sector both needs support as well as encouragement to rise to challenges. These are not incompatible aims . The capacity and infrastructure of our sector is weak , often as a result of funding failures like no full cost recovery.

Now to those of you wondering about the health of the Hound ,she is recovering slowly ,but faces a threat from my sister Sara who is suggesting a report to the RSPCA about her brother¨and failure to supervise said Hound effectively . You can always tell a teacher cant you. Fortunately she has gone off to Norway to lecture them about teacher induction so I am safe for a while.

And as for the house , let me reassure those who are worried that I have given up my wonderful cottage in Charlbury . No . " Clinks " is just as a London base , My heart remains in Charlbury.And the Hound would be upset if her sheep and bull harrying activities were curtailed. They pose less threat than the London car.

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