Tuesday 9 March 2010

Next stop; Reading and Cardiff!

On train to next stages of BIG ASK gig. First stop Reading!

I had a revitalising weekend in Charlbury in the gorgeous March sun, and a long walk over to Finstock with the hound for Sunday lunch in my favourite local Inn; the Plough! The walk back was enlivened by a spot of deer hunting; the Hound had spotted a grazing deer and decided to play. Fortunately the deer outstripped her; quite a feat as The Hound can outrun most dogs (clearly a third sector hound!).

Yesterday we had Phillip Blond from Respublica to lunch at ACEVO to talk to my team on what we might do together to influence policy making in Government, particularly amongst the Tories. We talked about the Better Banking Coalition (which is housed at ACEVO) it turns our Philip is a fan of the States Community Reinvestment Act, which we believe can play a role here in encouraging better banking practise in communities often excluded by banks. Peter gave the example of Thamesmead where in a substantial estate of some 10,000 there are only three cash points and only one of these is free. So effectively a banking tax on the poor.

What the banks in the States have discovered is that banking to third sector organisations or community groups is not necessarily more risky. Indeed the example of the Social Investment Business here is that so called "unbankable" loans turn out to be no more risky than those the banks want to make. Our default rate in SIB is low, so far.

As we pointed out to Phillip what the Futurebuilders' and Communitybuilders' funds have demonstrated, par excellence, is;

 there is strong demand in our sector for loans

 these loans show that our sector is bankable

 loans are a brilliant way of revitalising the sector with the loans repaid being re-used to capitalise more organisations.

My PA had laid on a splendid lunch - Blond was much taken with her avocado and tomato salad - and we have agreed three potential work streams.

The morning had seen us laying on an "employee engagement" seminar at BIS to look at the recent report form Nita Clarke and David Macleod on how to ramp up emloyee engagement to drive innovation and efficiency. A fascinating morning and I returned to ACEVO for a staff meeting where we have agreed to use Nita to work up an engagement strategy for our own staff. I was taken by a presentation form BT where they have used an engagement survey to good effect. We shall do the same. But it was interesting to note the comment from one of the presenters that it is often obvious where a workforce is engaged just by visiting and seeing whether there is a buzz and dynamism about the place.

It brought to mind a comment a couple of recent visitors to the ACEVO office had made on just that point. They had said it was so obvious that we had a really talented staff group at ACEVO from the "buzz" and palpable sense of fun and dynamism you got walking though the office. Others have said the same. Its a great tribute at a time when we have just hired our 41st member of staff !

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