Friday, 15 April 2011


A week that has flashed by, and a worry about how to get things done in April when there are so many Bank Holidays and leave taking, including by me, and we have a Trustees/ Directors meeting on 3 May…I know, plan ahead/time management!

The week began with the Guildford Diocese’s South East Faith Forum on the subject of the Big Society . This included a quite brilliant speech by Rev. Dr Malcolm Brown (CoE Mission and Partnerships Adviser). He put the BS into a historical context: Jeremy Bentham talking about a society of strangers in the 19thC, and hence the need for State intervention, contrasted with Figgis (1910) writing about society as  “a community of communities” smaller than the State but larger than mere individuals and families, and so needing intermediary bodies – churches, trade unions, and universities to sustain and nurture them . He also mentioned Phillip Blondel the political thinker behind Cameron on the BS.

As practical examples of the outworking of the vol. sector trying to progress elements of the Big Society, I had a meeting on Thursday with Adult Care service commissioners with our member organisation,  Halow about moving a small group of young people out of expensive out county residential care into independent living. Detailed work is now to be done on the costs Surrey CC is incurring from current placements and then to see if there is scope for an initiative funded by social finance. In the afternoon, I had a brilliant meeting about the setting up of the social enterprise to provide employment for young people, which is now going ahead and the company (a CiC)  being set up. Massively positive, albeit small scale,  and an interesting test bed.

Then today a Keeping in Touch meeting with Surrey CC’s Head of Service for Young People, which was also positive for the sector.

Personal: Up to London this week end to have dinner out with youngest son, and then to support middle son in running the London Marathon. He wants to get in under 4 hours, and has raised £3,500 for a charity supporting children in India (the railway Children) who sleep on the rail tracks.

Keep fit!

Friday, 8 April 2011


We had possibly the best ever Celebration of Youth last Saturday evening at an excellent venue - Jubilee High School, Addlestone which has its own theatre. We had a distinguished audience of guests - the Lord Lieutenant, the High Sheriff(s), the Chairman and the Chief Executive of Surrey CC and 9 out of the eleven “Mayors and Chairs” and we had a good audience of parents and friends supporting some great performances by young people, and with loads of exhibition stands. We printed 200 programmes which were all used up. There are pictures of the event on our website and Facebook.

In different vein, I met up with the Head of Youth Services for West Sussex CC on Monday evening and she explained that her restructuring had resulted in some 87 redundancies…so this is a tough time for youth workers everywhere.

On Tuesday evening, I met with our members from our uniformed organisations; amazingly the Girl Guides in Surrey East have a waiting list of 450 young people to join the Guides- the impediment is the lack of volunteer leaders.

I co-presented with the Head of Surrey Youth Service at an important meeting with those of our member organisations working with young offenders about the possibility of deploying social finance (ie from corporates or social philanthropists), recognising that there is a minus 30% in public expenditure and likely to be ever increasing challenges for young people. I confess to being a keen advocate of social finance, and of what I call a new “triangular model “ or relationships between the public sector – voluntary sector – corporates/social philanthropy. The experts on this are the charity called Social Finance, but I have about 20 papers on the subject which will go up on our website in a week or two. It was a good first meeting and the agreement was to meet a second time once work has taken place outside the meeting.

I am gradually clearing my decks of completed projects so that I can concentrate on the key task, as for everyone else in the VCFS, of getting in income for 2012/13, but meanwhile, I’m taking the afternoon off to enjoy (and work in) the garden!

Enjoy a beautiful week-end!

Friday, 1 April 2011


Really interesting if demanding week….

Last Sunday I did the “Y toY” 26 mile marathon charity walk from Guildford Y to RedhillY, in aid of the work of Redhill Y with children and young people with disabilities. We started at 9.00 am and got in at 6.30 pm which is pretty good going, though the CEO of RedhillY ran it in 4.5 hours! I did not have any blisters or aches, and raised £450 so was pleased, - a big thank you to my sponsors.

I then met up with the County Council’s Head for Services to Young People at 8.30 am on Monday morning for a private chat, which has to be...private.

I went to the induction session for the new Lord Lieutenant’s cadets, both civil and military on Tuesday evening at County Hall, and was struck by the maturity and assurance of these young people, aged 16-18.

Our incorporation as a company has come through this week in the nick of time for our intended 1 April start, so having both this and our Pqasso award we are well placed to present ourselves as a well organized charity that is focused on Innovation and Impact in 2011/12.

I went to a late afternoon NCVYS session in London on leadership featuring Charlie Mayfield, the CEO of the John Lewis Partnership. He gave a very interesting talk. Famously the JLP is a mutual founded some 75 years ago and owned by the 75,000 staff.
There were some key learning points:
  • The importance of values in setting culture 
  • That culture was about staff (“partner” in JLP terms) Rights –to information, accountability of managers, transparency, and Responsibility – meaning constant self criticism and improvement
  • Famously all “partners” benefit from the company profits, and all got 18% this year…..from top to bottom
  • Pay is set (in the original Trust documents) so that the maximum the CEO can get is 75 times that of the lowest pay grade
Lots  of lessons for banks. I was very impressed by his matter of fact style, and lack of bravado.

In different vein, there have been several useful reports from New Philanthropy Capital recently which we’ll put up on our website next week, including one on Preparing for Cuts, which we discussed at yesterday’s Community Foundation, Surrey policy committee. I am constantly arguing that there needs to be a “new settlement” which sees a close triangular relationship between: Central and local government – the voluntary sector- corporates/ social finance/ philanthropists.

And tomorrow, Saturday,  is our Celebration of Youth and Volunteering, so more about that next week.