Thursday 14 June 2012

Citizen service and No 10

Always fun to bump into Emma-Jane Cross, the ebullient CEO of Beat Bullying. We were both going into No 10 for a reception to mark the role of the third sector in proving children and young people services. We were both remarking somewhat irreverently on current state of charity affairs. Fortunately I spotted the PM bearing down on me before I said anything too shocking! We had a word before he shot off to "do some homework" as he put it( Leveson looming as it was).

The reception , apart from being jolly and full of ACEVO members , had a serious import. The PM was launching a review of the national citizen service to look at how to take it forward. And indeed how to develop voluntary servcies for the 10 to 20 age group more generally. It is being led by Amanda Jordan ( an old colleague from national lottery charities board days) and Julia Cleverdon. This is an excellent and canny move by No 10. I have to say that Cameron looked remarkably relaxed and gave a very good speech about the role of the sector. It was good to hear him praising the " thousand flowers of inspiration" in the sector. He at least understands the strength of our diversity, as opposed to those who say we need tidying up and merging.

Many of us in the sector like the idea of a citizen service for all 16 year olds but I think had questions about the very top down centralist model being adopted which was strangely at odds with the general localist approach they were taking elsewhere. The reality is that we need a range of models and solutions for 16 year olds that recognises the very diverse outlook and aspirations of this age group . They don't all want summer camps or outward bound!

So ACEVO will be gathering views from members to feed into Amanda and I've already talked to her about how we do this. Anyhow nice to emerge from No 10 into the sunlight and go home and sit in the garden! The weeds look splendid.

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