Thursday 30 August 2012

The Flying Baroness

What a magnificent sight! Last night; the opening ceremony and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson flying across the Stadium with fellow Paralympian champions. The Bubb clan were glued to the TV.

Tanni is definitely becoming a real star of this year's Paralympics. She is known for her sporting triumph. Less so for her interest in leadership development. So I'm delighted she will be out guest speaker at our Silver jubilee dinner on November 28th.

She will be awarding our silver jubilee leadership fellowships at that glittering event. So do come.

To book click here

And if you are a corporate there are still a couple of tables left you can purchase . Contact

And finally more lovely holiday snaps from an occasionally sunny Devon. Here I am with mother , sister Lucy ( plus the other hound) and niece Miranda.

And a couple of views from hope Cove.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

Bubb clan rocks Devon!

Yes, it's that time of year again. The annual Bubb clan gathering in the quaint old fishing village of Hope Cove, South Devon. 14 of us. Swapping a week of work for family banter and discussion. Decision making is problematic when everyone has a bright idea ( and thinks its the best!) so meal times are fun! The discussion on the best way of making porridge was most stimulating.

Arrived in brilliant sun, which soon gave way to the Great British Bank Holiday rain. The Hound was distinctly unimpressed at the idea of a run over muddy Bolt Tail!

So here are some snap shots of yesterday's run out to Hallsands ; village that fell into the sea; a result of enthusiastic dredging to provide shingle for building Plymouth docks. My nephew Alexander ( currently finishing off his dissertation at Hertford College, Oxford) and brother Nick.

And no walk on the Devon cliffs would be complete without a welcoming ale and goodly lunch at the highly recommended Rabbit Inn at Beesands. The Hound recommends the Fish pie!

Worth mentioning we were walking on cliffs owned by the wonderful National Trust. The NT own a swathe of cliff walks in some of the most glorious of our Devon countryside. Indeed they own much of the coastline in Devon and Cornwall. 3000 hectares of woodland. 1500 hectares of farmland and much of Dartmoor and Exmoor.

We should never take our countryside for granted. Once again we see another attack on our green belt. People quite spuriously linking the need for more house building with doing that on the green belt. We must never give in to avaricious developers for whom a green field is but an opportunity for a car park and faux Georgian carbunkles .

So we must all support the work of the NT and CPRE who will, once again , need to gird their loins to protect our countryside. You would have thought the Coalition would have learnt by now; their proposals on forestry and then the reformed planning laws showed the power of our third sector when we can mobilise the public to protect the country.

We tend to take our glorious countryside and our coasts for granted. But organisations like the National Trust have fought long and hard to protect it.

But never off duty; I get a call from the Office as I wander the beach; the Daily Mirror wants an article on the Honours system. 200 words by 6pm. No problem! Delivered by 5.56 ...

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Too old? Too young?

It's a commonplace to observe our trustee boards are often highly unrepresentative. Too many men. Too White. And often too old. The age issue is tt interesting one. Having trustees who have been around in top roles in the various sectors brings wisdom and experience. And let's be clear we don't fall into the trap of thinking there is an age limit for trustees. No reason at all not to have people in the 70 s. Or older even.

But there are very few boards that have young trustees And it's time we considered why ?

Recently I came across a brilliant organisation , "Young Charity Trustees" and it's dynamic founder Alex Swallow. In his own words,

" I set up Young Charity Trustees after attending my first Trustee conference, looking around the room and realising that there were very few people my age present. After a bit more of an investigation into the stats, which show that the average age of Trustees in England and Wales is 57, I started a networking group on LinkedIn, which grew into a website and engagement through other forms of social media (we have over 3000 followers on Twitter, for example). "

Young Charity Trustees is run by Alex with the help of volunteers . Their main aim is to increase the number of young people on Charity Boards and to support those who already serve on them.

But not content with that challenging aim they want to support other forms of Board diversity, and to promote other leadership opportunities for young people such as School Governor and Local Councillor positions.

Alex is one of those people who you just know will be highly successful . As he said ,

" In my own case, I was convinced that the Chief Executive of the organisation I'm a Trustee at was going to ask me to be Father Christmas at the Children's Party, so I was floored when she mentioned the possibility of Trusteeship instead."

It's a new organisation but they have already started working with a number of local and national charities who are keen on involving young people on Governance level.

Alex says that one of the biggest things they have found is that most young people have no idea that they are able to be Trustees, which means that a host of skills and passion is not being utilised in the sector.

Young people have a lot to offer Boards and a lot to gain in return, especially at a time when the job market is tough and the skills learned through Trusteeship can add another string to their bow.

See more on

Friday 24 August 2012

Health and wellness

Health is such a fascinating area to work! Yesterday i had 2 great meetings. First a lunch with Dr Charles Alessi , the Chair of the National Association for Primary Care. Charles was a member on my group on choice and competition in the listening exercise. He has strong and clear views about the importance of wellness and how GPs need to promote that , not a biomedical model of health. As he was explaining , only about 20 % of the determinant of good health is explained by medical intervention. 30% is down to lifestyle choices. 40% to environment , job etc.

Yet we run a " health " service that puts resources behind sickness and largely ignores keeping people well and preventing Ill health. I've been banging on about long term conditions for ahem so I won't repeat the arguments here. Needless to say acevo's task force that is looking at prevention measures ( admirably chaired by Hugh Taylor the former DH permanent secretary). One of the ideas we will explore was a " wellness prescription". Charles was telling me they have this system in Sweden. Same prescription pad. So you get your sugar reducing pills and a prescription for a diet class and 6 hours in the local gym , for example.

We are going to work more closely with NAPC and I am speaking at their annual conference in November. As indeed I am at the NHS Alliance and , next year , at the annual conference of the NHS charities.

Dr Charles clearly takes his wellness seriously as he looked disapprovingly at my glass of Sancerre over lunch! Incidentally I have found a rather lovely new restaurant , The Chancery ( introduced to me by Peter Wanless no less ). And I did go for the vegetarian option and no desert so I was sort of looking after my wellness too.

Then back to the office to meet ACEVO member Chris Burghes , who leads the Royal Free NHS charity. He too has a strong interest in a health service that looks at health as well as sickness and improves the care patients and citizens receive. He is investing a large sum in " iconsult" which is an innovative project to allow doctors to sype consultants and sort their patients health care out directly rather than the current absurdity of having to write a letter , wait for a written reply , then the patient being given a consultant appointment some time much later. The cost of postage. The inefficiency and unproductive way in which the NHS handles this beggars belief in an age of email and Internet. The fact that much of our NHS is an email free zone is a scandal. I wonder what the NHS spends on postage a year?

There are hundreds of NHS charities. Supporting some great work in hospitals. They were saved from nationalisation by the Charity Commission in '47 otherwise the Government were going to filch all the huge endowments that citizens over the centuries had given to support health care.I know the work of the Guys and Tommies charity well. They do good work in the Lambeth community as well as in those 2 marvellous hospitals. But perhaps they could all do more to promote wellness? Rather than yet more money for another scanner, putting money behind say AgeUk to support old people in the community and prevent unnecessary admissions to hospitals , thus saving them the money they can then invest in technology. Remember , the majority of hospital beds are taken by the over 60s !

So then back to Brixton. Sitting in the garden. Enjoying wellness!

Thursday 23 August 2012

Leadership means diversity

One of my members told me that challenging times for their organisations have meant they have been paying less attention to talent spotting, looking out for future leaders, than they used to.

It’s also been noticeable in the fewer requests we’ve had at ACEVO for job swaps or shadowing placements with our members.

For those who do want to follow up on this , ACEVO has always had a broad offering on this front so get in touch with ACEVO

As I stressed when it was published, last year’s Pay Survey once again revealed disturbing results about diversity in our leadership. An expert in this area is the sector leading headhunter David Fielding who will be writing a piece on the subject in the next edition of Network, mailed out to members next month.

ACEVO is leading on the recommendations from the Leadership 20:20 Commission (chaired by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson) on this important issue.Our role is “redressing the inequalities in Civil Society leadership through opening up effective pathways”.

The Leadership 20:20 Commission recognises that diversity in its broadest sense continues to be under-represented in civil society leaders - most starkly at Chief Executive and Trustee level. And as the sector that promotes social justice we surely have a responsibility to promote equality of opportunity for all?

We are pulling together partners to work on this with us and opening up our "Emerging Leaders" programme to a wider audience as a start to this work.

ACEVO has a Black and Asian Leadership Special interest group and they are doing some research into diversity ( focused on Black and Asian Leaders. ) Their research will help us to establish solutions to encourage the recruitment and support of a more diverse leadership across the sector. Get involved by taking part here

I’m also about to launch our Silver Jubilee Fellows Award. The awards will be presented by that brilliant paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson at our Annual Conference Dinner on 28 November.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Defending the National Lottery.

Camelot has lost their case against the Desmond health lottery- though they will appeal.

Our fear has always been that the Health Lottery would reduce the amount of money going to charity by damaging the National Lottery, which gives a higher proportion of its revenue to good causes; 28p in the pound not 20p.

We believed, as the Commons select committee has said, that this was the opposite of parliament's intention, and that either loopholes in the law needed closing, or the Gambling Commission was not enforcing the law properly.

The fact that the courts have ruled that the Gambling Commission was properly enforcing the law means that the law itself contains loopholes and these needs to be urgently closed.

So we are demanding that the Government act now- the potential for other competitors to the National Lottery to enter the market and give less to charity has now increased.

The truth is that it is no longer tenable for the Government to sit on the fence and pass the buck to the regulator or the courts. Ministers must make a decision, and act to enforce the intention of parliament and to protect charitable income in the UK. DCMS have been sitting on their hands it is time to get off them and act.

Let's remember that last year the National Lottery gave £270m to health charities. They also gave £279m to sports charities.

How ironic, given our Olympic success if the amount that the national lottery gave to staging the Olympics and to developing sports generally was to be damaged in the future by allowing competition that means organisers give less money to good causes and take more in profit.

The National Lottery has raised £28 billion for good causes since it was set up. Good causes across the board for charities up and down the country. It is worth defending.

Thursday 16 August 2012

Put out the bunting; Dilnot victory!

Great to see from the papers that the Government, or more particularly, the Prime Minister has decided that Dilnot is to be implemented. According to the press he has overruled HMT objections and determined the right thing to do for older people who need care is to go for the very sensible and widely supported Dilnot proposals for a cap of 35k on care bills. The fact that some old people wee forced to sell their homes to pay for social care was a disgrace. But it will be no more. Its right. And it is sensible.

This is superb news. When I had my last meeting with the PM at No 10 on the health bill I stressed just how important social care was and how the Government did need to act on Dilnot. I have to say I thought at the time he was strongly sympathetic to this.

Since then a huge amount of lobbying- both behind the scenes and in the media etc has stressed the need for action. ACEVO member Simon Gillespie and the social care alliance have done incredible work. ACEVO has been using its influence to back this campaign up and it shows that intelligent lobbying can reap dividends.

It has paid off. 3 cheers for Cameron taking a leadership role on this and recognising the need for decisive action. He deserves credit for taking a step that Governments over the decades have failed to do- a point I made directly to him when we discussed this.

Social care has always been the poor sister to health yet a more integrated approach to care for the elderly is both right for old people and , in the long run, a more effective use of resources.

Must be something to do with the Olympic feel good factor ??

Wednesday 15 August 2012

The Sally Army rocks...

At Hadleigh Farm , a name that will gladden the hearts of the 45,000 members of that glorious body, The Salvation Army ; notably my friend and long time ACEVO member Debbie Scott , who runs Tomorrows People.

The Salvation Army was formed in 1878 by William Booth. He set out to provide rehabilitation for the poor and jobless. In 1886 he bought land in Hadleigh in Essex , to set up "the Colony " for the benefit of men who through misfortune need a helping hand". It has grown and thrived and they now own over1000 acres and run a rare breed farm ( I bought some of the eggs! ), a training centre and provide employment for people with disabilities. The tea rooms are a great local eating spot where the Bubbs took lunch!

It's a great spot , just close by is Hadleigh Castle , built as I discovered by an ancestor who used it as a defensive spot during the 14 th century and the Hundred years War. Below you will see aged but fit parents enjoying the ancestral spot!

And, of course, as you will no doubt have now clocked , it was the venue for the mountain bike Olympics! All took place over Sally Army land. We saw them dismantling stuff.

And it's worth reflecting more on the role of the Salvation Army. Every night they help about 3500 homeless people, and not just with food and shelter but also starting them back on the road to a better life. They serve over 3 million meals a year. Their prison chaplains reach out to some 79,000 prisoners a year. And in the Olympic aftermath let's remember their children and youth centres and clubs are attended by over 20,000 a year.

Booth's vision of " colonies " that helped unemployed and poor spread throughout the Empire and dominions and so they now work in over120 countries. I saw their work in Australia. They remain true to their mission of working with the homeless and jobless and they are a massive provider of the Government's work programes.

They would have liked to play a bigger role in the UK but weren't able to with the Work Programme. It was interesting reflecting on the origin of the work that Booth did at Hadleigh. He was determined to provide jobs and to get people back on their feet. Not for a profit but because they were driven by a mission. Hence my passion for a greater role for non-profit organisations in the work programme.

One bright spot here is the merger of the Shaw Trust and the Careers Development Group under the dynamic leadership of Roy O'Shaughnessey , also an active ACEVO member. It was one of the early disappointments of the contract for the WP that the Shaw Trust ( then the biggest third sector provider in this area) decided the terms were not right for them to even bid. CDG has however the distinction of being one of the " primes". What we have to hope is that when the new Work Programme contracts are tendered in about 4 years time we will see them wining a bigger role.

We need the third sector's mission driven approach, as animates CDG . One that is guided by the same drive and vision of General Booth all those years back. And if you are wondering where the Hound is , she is holidaying with her Irish cousin Bantry; very happy as you can see with my sister Sara down in Bromley.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Even bloggers have holidays!

Well , I have swapped the bucolic delights of the gorgeous Cotswolds for the lovely Essex village of Orsett; I'm at my parents for a relaxing long holiday weekend. I arrived as the combine harvester was finishing off in the fields behind the house.

We are not far from the Rainham Marshes, a wetland area of huge importance for wildlife and largely untouched since the middle ages. It is a nature reserve run by the RSPB. The RSPB , run by CEO Mike Clarke , is one of our country's foremost environmental charities; as they say , they are a " million voices for nature". This is a charity that is proud of it's huge membership. Their annual meetings attract large numbers and the membership is closely and passionately attached to what they do. Whilst we might think it's just about birds , it is also about securing the natural habitat and they have strong financial resources to back their campaigning and have the strength to speak out for nature, unfazed by Governments or vested business interests.

So on the basis a third sector CEO is never truly on leave , it was great to go and see their nature reserve on the marshes. It's an award winning building that has all the best in environmental conservation ; solar energy and clever use of tunnels to funnel sunlight and the clever use of rainwater gathered. And , of course they are at the forefront of campaigning to stop mad Boris's Thames estuary airport which would pose a huge threat to the wildlife here.

And to cap a third sector day it was off to see the Royal Opera House store at High House in Purfleet. Important to remember that the ROH is a charity , not a public institution even though it has always played a major role in national life. Then to cap the day off my parents and I went to see the famous St Clements Church. Why famous? Well it was , as you will probably recognise from the photo, one of the venues used in " Four Weddings and a Funeral" that brilliant film! I was lucky enough to be at its Premier ( and after film party I might add!).

Friday 10 August 2012

Reforming NHS funding!

Yet another study that shows better health care in the community saves money ! Shock !

£500 million and 7000 beds could be saved by cutting the numbers of elderly people in emergency admissions to A+E, the Kings Fund say. We all know that the care of the elderly in the NHS is poor and that the absence of proper community support and an integrated health and social care system often results in hospital stays which actually make things worse.

I remember at our last ACEVO health conference one of the new CCG leads saying they know that the way they commission dementia and elderly care is bad and often ends up making things worse for people not better.

The real issue is not the interesting results of this study, but that the NHS seem unable to act on the findings.

And the reason they are not is that we have a health service that is dominated by acute care in hospitals. We have to shift resources from hospitals to community and prevention services. That means closing hospitals.

It also means expanding choice and, yes, using a greater number of providers; especially from the charity and social enterprise sector.

And it is an inevitable conclusion that to achieve change we need to move resources from state run NHS services into third sector run provision. Age UK have been campaigning for radical change and have been pioneering new approaches. As the thinking over the next spending review starts we have to tackle the hold that hospitals have on the system. We need a national health service but we get a national sickness service.

We also need to put resources into prevention. Sir Hugh Taylor, Chair off my old hospital Guy's and Tommie's ( and former Perm Sec at DH ) is currently chairing an ACEVO task force on prevention; aiming to report in the autumn. It draws together leading figures from health , social care and councils with our own ACEVO CEOs. I hope it will make an important contribution to the debate on moving resources in an increasingly cash strapped NHS.

Thursday 9 August 2012

Better banking

So , another British bank is accused of bad practice; Standard Chartered is described as a " rogue bank".

On top of all we now know about malpractice in our finacial industry there can be no doubt on the need for reform. The ACEVO led " better banking coalition" have achieved a notable success in our own campaign to secure transparency in banking.

The Labour Party have today published their " banking transparency policy review ( Read it here).

It recognises how knowing where bank lending is happening, or not happening, could help national, regional and local policymakers to better shape support to small and medium-sized businesses, and  tackle poverty and financial exclusion. And adopts the introduction of a US style Community reinvestment act in the UK as recommended by the Better Banking Coalition.

The review also explores what can be done to encourage much stronger joint working between mainstream banks and other parts of the financial services industry such as community banks and credit unions.

Youth Unemployment

For those of us who remember the mass youth unemployment of the 80s its remarkable how little attention is being given to the huge level of youth unemployment in the UK now.

It is one of the most damaging aspects of the current recession and we appear to have learnt nothing from the lessons of the 80s. We know that youth unemployment casts a long shadow. Whilst the Olympics have been on , we have largely ignored the first anniversary of the riots. The Government- notably from the DPM- have been taking some steps to tackle the problem , but by no means enough.

But against this background there are some local councils who have decided they need to act. I have reported on the recent Jobs Summit in the NE which ACEVO organised with the local authorities there. Now Birmingham City , the country's largest Council is to act.

Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, held a press conference yesterday at which he signal his determination to tackle youth unemployment in Birmingham - the city with the highest levels of youth unemployment in the UK.

His renewed determination to tackle the issue was linked directly to ACEVO's Commission on Youth Unemployment. Dr Kyle and Ralph Michel met with both Sir Albert and Liam Bryne MP recently in the run-up to this announcement.

The third paragraph of the press release from yesterday states the following:

"The Leader of Birmingham City Council has commissioned third sector leaders ACEVO (Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations) to carry out a piece of rapid scoping work to identify what organisations are already doing to tackle youth unemployment in the city; the real scale of the issue in Birmingham; and the key problems and opportunities."

For a Chief Executive body like ACEVO it is important not only to lead the debate about the challenge of youth unemployment in the country, but to become instrumental in how the solution is rolled out.

We're also in discussion with several other local authorities who are keen to have our support.

Our sector is at the forefront of the demand for action on youth unemployment. ACEVO members know only to well the damage being done to communities. It's time for a determined to do something about it.

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Yes we can!

The next phase of the National Citizen Service is to involve private companies like SERCO. The Government need to tread with care when they commission this expansion.

Contracts that are based on genuine partnership between companies and charities can open up great opportunities; for scale and logistics tied with a charities ability to reach out, driven by their mission and ability to motivate staff and volunteers.

But it depends entirely on the contract and the deal reached . Catch 22 and Turning Point have reached entirely sensible contracts with SERCO in prisons. There is a genuine partnership. But the Work Programme has not been quite so clear cut.

The involvement of small voluntary organisations has not lived up to expectation following DWPs promises at the outset. And dare I mention that A4E has not been a shining role model for the private business apporach?

The sector will therefore rightly be keeping a close eye on how the Cabinet Office commission the NCS using private companies.

I urge them to take a look at a report out today by the IPPR. It concluded that charities run schools better than businesses.

They showed that there is no conclusive link between higher business school providers and school performance in the US,Sweden and Chile. The argue the Government should not allow business to run free schools. They argue there is a vibrant and strong non profit sector and we should continue to use it.

I think we are beginning to see a more balanced approach in policy on business and the sector. Gone are the days when it was assumed only private companies knew how to run a successful business. That you need to stuff executives mouths with gold to get them to perform.

I was always irritated by leadership studies that lauded the private sector whilst ignoring the third sector leadership approach. Now we know the corrupting culture of the financial industry we should be doubly aware of assuming only private companies can deliver good outcomes.

As the sector continues to grow I believe there is a role for partnership between business and sector. I think we will see this grow and help us expand. We already know that boundaries are blurring between the sectors. If you have a client based outcome model you obsess less on what uniform the staff wear- private, public or third sector.

But it's an approach based on mutual respect, profit/surplus sharing and a genuine focus on outcomes for clients not shareholders.

So let's hope the Cabinet Office will base NCS on that model. Join up the strengths of our sectors and commission that way. But I also hope that as we grow we will see third sector SERCOs competing on equal terms with business.

Friday 3 August 2012



That was certainly a good day to see the Olympics. Nothing like a good Gold win for team GB ( and a few world records) to raise the spirits.

And what an atmosphere in the veledrome as Hoy and team sped round that track! Some photos from my trusty blackberry for your delectation !


Thursday 2 August 2012

The Olympics and the voluntary sector

Well , here I am at the Veledrome for the Olympic cycling finals. A gold for Hoy, Pendleton and team? I hope so! The veledrome is a gorgeous building , though I'm also rather fond of the Veledrome in Herne Hill; the hound and I usually pop in if we are making our way to Dulwich Park. This was the early scene of Bradley Wiggins training!

But it is worth reflecting on the role of the country's charity sector in making this a great Games. We all know about the role of the thousands of volunteers. But there have been many national charities intimately connected with the Games. Take the example of the RNIB.

When London was awarded the Games there was cross partysupport and ministerial commitment to the most inclusive and accessible Olympics ever. LOCOG, ODA and the Olympic partners have been rising to that challenge with guidance from RNIB. All those involved have been working hard to guarantee that blind and partially sighted people get the best from this commitment, demonstrating that the UK leads the world in this practice. We can be really proud of this achievement , which could not have happened without the power and strength of RNIB. It's often fashionable to disparage national charities but no single local or regional charity could have done what RNIB has achieved.

This began with the ticketing . RNIB worked closely with LOCOG on an accessible ticketing strategy, which included companion's tickets for sighted guides, a website and payment system usable with assistive technology and colour contrasting tickets to help people with low vision. RNIB also ensured that spectator information relating to the tickets will be available in Braille, audio, and larger print.

Then of course lots of blind people wanted to participate in all aspects of the games, and they have; with 4 blind torchbearers, and 5 blind Para-Olympic torchbearers. RNIB supported more than 50 blind and partially sighted people to find Olympic jobs, and over 70 blind and partially sighted people in applying to the volunteering programme, Many of these roles are "Front of house".

Possibly best of all is the agreement RNIB secured with LOCOG of an audio description service at every event for spectators across the country and to cap this, the first ever live audio description on TV of a major event; The Opening ceremony.

Working with the BBC, RNIB has been helping train the commentators and BBC colleagues have been working up to the wire to solve some big technical challenges. And lots of the cultural events included audio description.

The opening ceremony was a triumph. Interesting that a number of MPs criticised the event; Burley for it's "multicultural crap" and Halfon's criticism of Shami Chakarabati of Liberty for helping escort the Union Flag . But one of the great features of the ceremony was the celebration of the country's civil society. So whether that was the suffragettes or the Jarrow marchers ,we were reminded that one of this country's great contributions to the world has been our tradition of a strong and vibrant civil society ; there to champion the excluded and to advocate for a fairer and more just society. Messrs Burley and Halfon should reflect on what is happening in Russia where NGOs are being suppressed for expressing dissent. A vibrant democracy encourages and celebrates organisations like Liberty.

So for me the glory of that Opening was how it brought together the distinct and important roles of our country's civil society; it's ability to galvanise volunteers , to provide services for beneficiaries and to speak truth to power. Long my that continue.