Friday 25 January 2013

Royals and criminals

Well, it's not often you get to go to meetings with Princess Anne, but when you do it's always worth it!

Catch 22 is one of the charity sector's stars. A charity established in 1788 to do work getting kids off the streets. It does work in prisons and in rehabilitation and as "Rainer" it invented the modern day probation service and then ran it for decades.

They had laid on a roundtable bringing key stakeholders together to talk about public service reform and, in particular, how the rehabilitation revolution might go.

They are clear about the need for our sector to run more public services and Chris Wright, the CEO and ACEVO member, gave an admirable address on the value of sector delivery and getting stuck in to deliver more. They have a no nonsense approach built on their history and experience. We should deliver more. The State should pay for it and ensure the commissioning process helps charities, big and small, to do just that.

They had invited their Patron, The Princess Royal, who has a superb knowledge and grasp of the sector and spends a lot of time with charities. She had been to see the path breaking work that Catch 22 and SERCO are doing in Doncaster Prison on a PBR contract. They also have a social enterprise called which Bridges Venture has bought into to provide capital for expansion

But she made an important point in her speech which I echoed when I contributed. She spoke of the importance of charity independence and I followed by saying we must always take the Government's shilling but kick them in the shins when they misbehave. As Ed Miliband MP used to say when he was Third Sector Minister, "bite the hand that feeds you". I recommend that. I do.

What good news on Peter Wanless from Big Lottery getting the NSPCC job. He is a great guy, superb operator and a friend to our sector (ACEVO membership pack in post!). I had lunch with Clare Tickell, CEO of Action for Children on the day his appointment was announced and she and I celebrated his appointment. The top children's charities need to work together on an agenda that protects children and young people when services to these groups are being savaged.

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