Friday 4 November 2011

Bridge over troubled waters!

And ACEVO is that bridge! One of the most crucial services we provide is support, advice and comradeship to individual CEOs. It's core to our mission, and although less well publicised than our policy and advocacy work it can make a real difference.

It is a sign of the times that ACEVO's CEO in crisis service is experiencing a sharp rise. Yesterday, for example , Jenny Berry, our ACEVO North Director who handles this service had to deal with 4 CEOs facing major crisis. One running an organisation that is going out of business, and the others where there is appalling governance that is incapable of coping with the challenge of cuts, and where trustees are not working effectively with their CEOs ( indeed abusing them).

This is not going to get better. I met with a group of my ACEVO members in Manchester on Wednesday at the great Lesbian and Gay Foundation there ( led by the dynamic and experienced CEO Paul Martin ).

One member was facing the challenge of a reduction in her funding of 45%. This scale of cut is not just a disaster for the organisation, but more importantly will impact directly on the services provided for vulnerable people.

So ACEVO has a dual task; fighting irresponsible cuts in services and gearing up our support and advice services for individual CEOs. Organisations can be very bad at supporting their Leaders. Leaders themselves can be very bad at handling stress and looking after their health and development needs. ACEVO has a job to do in promoting strong leadership. That is why our CEO in crisis service is so vital.

I was delighted to be asked to speak at the very first national convention of Locality in Manchester . The merger of the DTA and BASSAC was a great example to the sector of 2 organisations coming together in troubled waters to better support the needs of community enterprise.

Locality is led by Steve Wyler, who I'm proud to say is an ACEVO member. Steve has a progressive and strong leadership style. He has refused to get involved in the silly and destructive debates about small is best or local always better than national. Yet he is a passionate advocate of local communities. As I said in my speech at the Convention what the sector needs at the moment is unity around essentials. We should have no truck with those who want to pursue internal theological discussions whilst ignoring the needs of our beneficiaries. So ACEVO will be woking to promote our broad and rich sector; communities of interest and of place, large and small, national and local. And we want to promote more partnership and alliances that build on the strengths of all.

I have got to know Steve well through his role as a trustee on the Adventure Capital Fund ( part of the SIB ). He has long been a key advocate for the power of loans to promote community enterprise. ACF is a brilliant example of how community organisations can have huge ambition and aim to grow. We have been able to develop strong enterprise at local level through loans. We want more of this!

But, as I said in my speech. If we want to speak truth to power then we need a sector that is fit for purpose and united on mission.

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