Thursday 3 December 2009

Joining the third sector!

You can tell when a sector is on the rise when there are queues of graduates desperate to work for you and when parts of the public sector want to opt in!

I have had discussions with British Waterways about their interest in becoming a third sector organisation a currently a Government agency. And Tuesday night I had dinner with them and selected guests to discuss this further.

They have issues a 20-20 consultation document to get views on this from their stakeholders and staff. It's a fascinating read. As you can imagine people who work on our ancient and historic canals and waterways have a passionate interest and concern. They have been trying to build up a volunteer army in support but have found that difficult. They also find the constraints and inflexibility's of the public sector an inhibiting factor when they want to build up and expand their community engagement.

Did you know that British Waterways are the third largest holders of Listed Buildings and structures in the country (after the NT and CoE)? Are we making as much use of our proud canal history as we should. Do we see them as playing a stronger part in community life in our urban areas. I have blogged previously about attempts in Oxford to revitalise the canal and boatyards of Jericho to be a real community asset, rather than as now, a forgotten and derelict backwater.

As Tony Hale, their Chair says:

" The private sector built our canals, the public sector rescued them and I believe the third sector can be their future. "

I encouraged them to go for it. To do it soon. But they rightly want to ensure buy in, not least from staff. But against a background of looming cuts a third way becomes increasingly attractive.
Our dinner was at the Guardian building, just by the Regents canal! And just up from that other canal loving body NCVO.

I am also delighted that Bert Massie, the Compact Commissioner has joined our ACEVO North Steering Committee. Bert is in fact one of the founding members of ACEVO and has a distinguished record of campaigning for and supporting people with disabilities. Fantastic news he will get involved with helping us roll our membership and activities in the North.

Let me finish this blog by using the quotation from Mark Twain that British Waterways end their consultation with:

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover"


Richard Fairhurst said...

Goodness me, now there's a coincidence.

I, among many others, have been encouraging BW to go for this for a while now - in my case from the monthly pulpit afforded by being editor of Waterways World magazine, and other opportunities such as BW's kind invitation to be on the panel at their 2008 Annual Meeting.

Despite the threatened sell-off by an increasingly desperate Treasury of BW's property assets, it would be a great way forward for the organisation.

But having advocated this from the comfort of a desk in Market Street, Charlbury, I'm rather amused to find that BW are consulting on it with someone from just down the road - in a house where I used to live!

All the best.

Sir Stephen Bubb said...

thanks Richard , i feel sure this is going to happen!