I've been having a few days off enjoying the glorious Cotswolds. What a gorgeous part of the country. It is no wonder there are lots of interesting peole living around here. The papers have made much of the so called "Chipping Norton" set. This includes Rebekah Brook, Cameron, Elizabeth Murdoch etc who live in and around Chippy.
All of this rather gives the place a bad name. Charlbury is but 7 miles from Chippy. I was wandering the shops there only on Monday. So we need to reclaim Chippy for the people. The Alternative Set. That will include great third sector people who live locally like Brendan Gormley of DEC and the CEO of Which. The former CEO of the United Nations Association and, of course, various academics and illustrious clerics like the Archbishop of Canterbury.
It makes my flesh crawl to think one of my favourite pub at Kingham was the scene recently of a lunch between Rupert M and Rebekah B. Fortunately I have a great alternative, The Plough at Finstock.
It makes a great walk with the Hound, through the grounds of Cornbury Park and lovely food and hand real ale await.
And just look at the countryside!
And whilst away I have to admit to being slack on blogging. Such a lot happening.
I have been appointed to the board of the Big Society Trust, the top company of the Big Society Bank (now to be known as Big Society Capital). I am delighted. Given my experience of social finance through Chairing the Social Investment Business I am a keen advocate of the transformational power of loans. The sector has been denied access to capital for so long. The new Big Society "bank" is an important step for our sector. It will be pioneering. With Ronnie Cohen as chair and Nick O'Donuhue it will do great things.
And what is good is that gradually the sector has come round to the idea of loans. I remember some pretty dinosaur views being expressed by some only a few years back. Of course we still have some siren calls waring against loans but they are now so isolated as to be seen as fringe.
Loans and grants, trading and philanthropy. A diverse income stream is what a third sector organisation strives for.
So I'm looking forward to my first Board meeting of the new Trust.
And tomorrow I shall be announcing who we have appointed as the new CEO of the Social Investment Business. A great appointment. Shows the value of search. I am telling staff this afternoon. They will be pleased to have someone in post to drive forward an exciting agenda for loans.
Cuts continue to hurt our sector. Dr Kyle was all over the media yesterday on this. Banging the drum for the sector. Reminding Government that cuts are wrong. Its good to demonstrate that ACEVO will work with Government when we can further our interests but will tell them when they get it wrong. And great to see that Peter was the lead person on this story on cuts on the BBC website. You could even "tap to play" to hear his interview. I did however have to suggest that the lack of tie and unshaven appearance made him look like an old fashioned agitator! But he explained that they caught him at the gym and he had to go straight to the studio, sans tie !
And finally; what fun to read the press on our decision to move to Regents Wharf. The speculation! But its a move not a merger...more boring I realise, but there you go. Once again the estimable Dr Kyle did some wonderful media on this. I loved the getting up your nose v love us bit! ACEVO is a great organisation, particularly because we are out there battling for our sector. Being dynamic. Sometimes edgy. But always with an eye to how we achieve for our members and drive the policy agenda forward in a progressive way.
I have my eye on the office I want, but haven't told Stuart yet....
Next time you are in Leeds Stephen let me take you to a couple of 'award winning' social enterprises that are being slowly strangled by their own debt and using resources that should be available to their beneficiaries to service them.
I have no problem with loan finance. Just the ability of some social entrepreneurs to use them constructively and effectively for the benefits of their communities.
This is fair comment. It is essential that the assessment process before making a decision on a loan is rigorous. The SIB has an " engaged investor" approach which , unlike a bank , means we support organisations through the loan period and help when things get rough. Not being soft ( we have actually had to intervene in a. Organisation that had poor governance and get it back on track) but we know we must give advice and support as part of the loan package.
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