Friday, 17 June 2011


A  reflection on the state of play in the week that has seen the rethink on the NHS…… I have had conversations with people from Common Purpose in London, Guildford Diocese, Community Foundation Surrey, Children England, a couple of social philanthropists, Surrey University, and others….I fear that at central and local government there are two tendencies at present: first an ambiguity about localism, decentralization and the Big Society when confronted with the realities of politics and the (apparent) need to retain control at the centre.

Second, in consequence, a fearful instinct to focus inwardly on an agenda of cuts, reorganization, and retaining control in the face of current expenditure cuts and, courtesy of the probability of Greece defaulting and contagion spreading to UK Gov and banks, a serious risk of more local cuts additional to those we already know about. Where are the leaders through this?

I am pleased to say that in Surrey, my Chairman and the Chair of Surrey Community Action have put forward a proposal to other leading Chairs in the sector to develop ways forward for the voluntary sector.

Encouragingly, I had a great meeting with one of our member organizations, Halow, and two social philanthropists about taking forward a particular proposal and I am convinced we can make this work. We had an Open Forum meeting on Tuesday evening at the BFree café in Leatherhead (a former church) when the key speaker was Wendy Varcoe from the Community Foundation, Surrey. The CF already gives some £600,000 in grants to voluntary organizations, and is a very significant local funder.

I am running a workshop at next Tuesday’s Surrey Community Action annual conference about social finance, and lest you should think I’m daft – did you see the headline this week? – “Social impact bonds will be worth tens of billions of pounds” Sir Ronald Cohen tells MPs”. Sir Ronald pretty much invented venture capital , and now is pushing social finance.. I rest my case!

The Department of Education officials writing the forthcoming White Paper on Youth are coming down to see us in September, as an example of an organisation doing interesting things, in conjunction with Surrey CC – we will be hosting the event. Good example of our advocacy and representation for the sector.

Personal: Off on Sunday to middle son’s flat in London for Sunday lunch (Father’s day ? Don’t recognize it – just a commercial contrivance) BUT as he is a professional chef/ patron of a successful restaurant in London, we will get a serious lunch…..after I have taken Matins for Trinity Sunday in a beautiful village church in West Sussex.

Enjoy the weekend,

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