Wednesday 3 March 2010

Not Gloating but Training

I'm not gloating. Well, not much. So we have the report on expenses.

As Third Sector reports:

"Independent Expert Group on Expenses says compulsory disclosure 'could damage public trust'

Charities should not be required to publish the expenses of their staff or individual trustees, the Independent Expert Group on Expenses has recommended."

ACEVO's evidence made exactly the points picked up in the Report. And I am pleased that ACEVO resisted the Gaderene like rush to disclosure when Charity Finance were demanding we reveal our expenses. My Board was clear on where its accountability lay and so we took a stand that we would account to our members but were not joining in a press frenzy. Now the dust has settled my Chair and I feel some justification in making the case that accountability does not lie in publishing the expenses of staff but in ensuring good governance.

And now for a short commercial break:

Our Members often need to find consultants to do pieces of work. Experience of these exotic breed is variable. Get the right one and it can do you wonders. The wrong one and it can be expensive and frustrating. Which is why I’m sure, as chief executives, many of us are often quick to overlook the merits of using them. But might we be missing a trick here?

This is why we have just launched a new service at ACEVO, to help make the process of hunting for and hiring the right consultant easier. We’ve met all the consultants in our ‘pool’ at length and we can help shortlist the ones who might "fit the bill".

We have developed this particular service as a free one and it is available to all third sector senior managers not just ACEVO members.

Click here to visit the website to find out more.

I'm on the "Flying Scotsman" off to Newcastle. The Social Investment Business has an office there and I am going to talk to staff and visit one of the organisations we have invested in "Norcare".

This is a fantastic organisation, working with vulnerable people in the North East. Its been around for 26 years and is ably led by Susan Bickerton, an active ACEVO member and on our ACEVO North Board. We have a very active membership in the North East and a blossoming relationship with the regional infrastructure body VONNE where we do joint work.

They have an investment from Social Investment business; a £216k loan and a capital grant of £45k. They are putting this toward the refurbishment of a house to form the basis of a home and support centre for veterans.

They have discovered a serious unmet need for support for veterans who have not got a job on leaving the army or are suffering post traumatic stress. The usual stress and counselling support from the NHS is not specialised enough and the army centre, which handle PTS, is in Ayr and can only handle 24 people. It was fascinating hearing about how they intend to work with the veterans. They will have room for five, but already have identified need for seventeen. They are going to bring their extensive experience of providing support, counselling and housing and day centre care to this, but coupled with the specialist care needed for a particular vulnerable group.

They reckon that something like 10% of those in prison are ex servicemen but this is an unrecognised client group! They said they had found the SIB process a good one - and are now working on their next loan application! As I told them I'm not on the Investment Committee so don't make the decision! Back to SIB's Newcastle office to talk to staff. A great bunch.

Then later today I'm on the next stage of the BIG ASK. Seeing what our members in the NE want from Government and the sector.

I like Newcastle a lot. Indeed my great grandfather, William Daglish, was born here! I like to mention this in my speeches!! This makes me 1: Eight (or is it sixteenth?) Geordie I reckon!

I was sad to hear about the death of Michael Foot; a superb Parliamentarian. I met him first in 1975 when Benazir Bhutto and I went to pick him up at Oxford station in her yellow MG. He was to give the Nye Bevan Memorial Lecture which I was chairing. I well remember how we had to fit him into the MG - Michael was a tall man! But he gave a stunning Lecture: full of power and erudition. A magnificent orator. A great man.

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