Monday 25 October 2010

Sunday Lunch and Channel 4

An excellent Sunday lunch cooked with my own fair hands for my parents and younger sister Lucy. A traditional roast sirloin and good claret (champagne preceding!). And then Channel 4 News ring. Want me to do an interview!

Obviously I accept, especially as they offer to come up to Clinks to do it. It means several takes as during the course of one soundbite, the Hound, who has been watching from the Garden, decides she should be the centre of attention and starts barking.

But comes out well in the end and the nation is treated to my views and views of my house. All very edifying. David Fielding texts me later to say well done; "gravitas and regal"!

As the dust settles on the CSR it is clear how much potential damage could be done to our sector. Our ACEVO estimate of £4.5bn is now widely accepted, NPC take a similar view and Dame Suzi concurs.

I thought Dame Suzi was magnificent in her interview with the BBC Politics Show. She has very bravely spoken out on behalf of the sector to warn of potential damage. Good for her I thought. When our members hurt, we defend them. When there is palpable damage we speak up. That's what independence means.

I remember all those lectures from Foundations about independence. Barings in particular produced a number of reports on it. Will they now support those who speak up? Will they now step up to the mark and support sector organisations that will be cut. How about the Foundations getting together and implementing their own "Transition Fund"? And there is a Big challenge for the Big Lottery Fund. Time for you to act too Peter?

Channel 4 also had an interesting interview with John Bird of the fantastic "Big Issue" who was setting out his views on how we should organise ourselves.

We want "the reform of terrible competition" he says. And his vision of the Big Society is "to scrub out duplication and promote pan sector work". Interesting. But it develops.

"The gravy train for charities has come to an end, but the big question is not how to obtain money - but how to improve your services without money".

I'm sure this will be welcome news to the many homeless charities that are now having grants removed and contracts slashed, at the same time as the Government's welfare cuts will mean more people on the streets.

I wonder if John is implementing this advice himself? Is he in discussion with Shelter, or other homeless charities to merge or share costs?

I'd be very happy to chat to John about supporting ACEVO's own advice and support services on mergers and partnerships. We are publishing advice on this in two weeks at our annual conference. Of course more cooperation is good. There is a lot of joint working and this will grow. There is more of it than John knows. Just look at how the health charities work together, or the partnerships in welfare.

But John should also remember that there is strength in our diversity and properly we resist Stalinist attempts to tidy us up! There is strength in our differing approaches and our proud individual traditions. The drive and ambition of people like John Bird when he set up Big Issue (as opposed to working through an existing charity) are the well spring of innovation and dynamism. There are many charities because many people support them through their giving and their volunteering.

And strange to say, sometimes competition is a spur to improvement! So tidy us up a tad yes. One size fits all no.

Oh, and if you've found that magic wand you wave that helps us deliver services with no money, do pass it on.

I'm now off to York (on the Flying Scotsman no less!) for a meeting with ACEVO members to talk about the CSR and its effects. Important in these times to keep in touch with members and to ensure we hone our support services, our advice and our advocacy on their behalf.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

£4.5m?! £4.5bn surely ...