Tuesday 23 February 2010

William, jobs and bullying

Brilliant coverage of the visit by Prince William to the St Dunstan's establishment in North Wales. This is a marvellous charity supporting injured servicemen and led by my great friend Robert Leader. Robert took up his post as CEO at the same time as I became CEO of ACEVO so we keep an eye on each other!

A good story, in contrast to the story of the other charity in the news; the National Bullying Helpline. The lesson for us all in running charities at the moment is to ensure we cannot be portrayed as pro one political party and this organisation made an elementary mistake in not having Patrons from all three main Parties. And how easy would it have been to get a comment from GB as well as DC?

The danger of this story is twofold. First it undermines trust in charities generally, and Helplines in particular.

Second it may make charities more wary of any campaigning work at all. This must not happen. Indeed the election period is a huge opportunity to push our particular cause and to demand action for our beneficiaries. Certainly ACEVO has been in overdrive in the last six months as we push the third sector agenda and advertise what our sector can deliver and what we can achieve.

It was a message I was ramming home in the Barbican this morning as I delivered a keynote address at the 4th National Welfare to Work Conference. The Total Place pilot are showing how much Government can save through joining up services. If they also involved the sector this could not just deliver more cost effective services but better citizen centred provision.

Some startling statistics from the total Place projects; in mid Bedfordshire a pilot looking at problems caused by crime found that in their areas just 2% of offenders caused 30% of crime, at a cost per offender of £500,000 a year. Yet they discovered that there are a potential 52 different benefits that might be available to those coming out of prison so it takes over three weeks to process a claim. And if there has been no action on a claim is it any wonder that people on release from prison are forced back to old ways?

We are now busy preparing statistics and ideas from the many that members have sent in for our meeting on Thursday with the Chancellor. And the Tory Summit is shaping up neatly. Looking likely for March 18 and we have an impressive array of speakers - led obviously by George Osborne.

And I am not forgetting Vince Cable! We have a meeting planned with him too. With polls showing a hung Parliament then good links there are crucial. Fortunately I have a prominent Lib Dem as one of my Trustees. Indeed born into a most distinguished Liberal family. Most useful!

It's good that our sector is getting the attention it deserves. Let's exploit this for all its worth.

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