Back to blogging after Bank Holiday leave and various events.
My Big Picture overview remains that there are two contradictory forces at work:the attrition in the voluntary sector caused by Government cuts, and yet the opportunities to be entrepreneurial in pursuit of “The Big Society”. At present I suggest that the former – attrition - is the more dominant force. To be explicit one sees it evident in the spate of closures and mergers nationally, and I try to persuade myself this Darwinian struggle is positive, and will result in a more self reliant, independent and robust sector (and nation). Interesting Cabinet leak to the effect that Francis Maude is cutting back on outsourcing to the private sector, and wants to give greater prominence to the vol sector. (See our e-bulletin)
Surrey Youth Focus is not immune from the changes- our costs are fixed (zero % pay rises for a 3rd year) but our income from grants and projects has fallen, so we have set a deficit budget for this year, like many others, and have to deploy our strong reserves – which his what they are for. However, we have now begun our funding campaign for 2012/13. We have also agreed at Chairman level, subject to Trustee approval, to have a formal collaborative agreement with Surrey Community Action.
There are other green shoots – I am delighted to be instrumental in setting up a social enterprise to provide employment for unemployed young people. The Community interest Company (CiC) is being formed now, and will start to trade in Quarter 4 this year - more later. We are progressing various social finance projects, and I do think that the way forward rests with social enterprises, and social finance as supplementary sources to the major contracts that are awarded. A time to tough it out!
I presented at a Surrey CC workshop at Denbies for our members given by Garath Symonds (Assistant Director Services for Young people). Cuts of £5 mill from a £16 mill budget must have some adverse consequences, BUT I do think that Garath has done well to mitigate the worst effects and to offer a reshaped service in which the voluntary sector has a considerable opportunity – to deliver wider services from the youth centres that are being opened up to the sector, and to be “on the menu” of the local prevention framework. Elsewhere we are having discussions with Surrey CC about how to increase volunteering, and I am talking to the Chamber of Commerce about other links. I attended a Surrey CC 14-19 Partnership Group yesterday, about the FE sector, which is badly affected by grant cuts and the loss of EMA to young people, and yet the performance of young people is still doing well.
Personal disclosure: completed year 2 assignments of MA Theology (just dissertation left for next academic year) and have read my first novel for a year, as opposed to a theology book. Am singing in Chichester Cathedral on Saturday – massed church choirs! FA Cup Final week –end too. Need to get fitter for speed walk with son in late June on the South Downs Way (80 miles for us).