Friday, 26 August 2011


Hi Everyone,

The week has been dominated by the important discussions about who the agreed bidder might be for the Government’s Office of Civil Society funding of the “Transforming Local Infrastructure" grant. There has been a great deal of interest in this funding- potentially £600,000 for Surrey, BUT there can be only one lead bidder, and the content of the bid must be genuinely transformative of the sector. The upshot is that Surrey Community Action will lead a Surrey bid in collaboration with many others including the CVS network, Age UK and of course Surrey Youth Focus. 

Having resolved who the ONE lead bidder will be, the next stage is discuss and agree the nature of the bid (by 31 October). The bid will need to meet the criteria set by the Lottery and reflect some shared vision about how the sector should transform, reduce costs, and improve services to the frontline. There is widespread agreement that there is duplication and possible cost saving, and it is essential to develop this belief into a shared vision of what an improved infrastructure network should look like (inevitably a hub and spoke in some form) and convert that vision into practicable projects. Quite a challenge, but a potential £600,000 is a very useful “carrot” to encourage change alongside the “stick” of cost cutting pressures we all face from reductions in grant income. 

I have drafted the Annual Report for 2010/11 and this now goes off to our auditor to check before going to Trustees for approval.  I find it hard to write retrospectively when the year has gone, and it is the here and now/future that is of greater concern. They are interlinked of course…I feel a TS Eliot poem coming on about “Time present is present…”

We have written formally to the eleven Surrey MPs, who are a very distinguished and influential group, inviting them to participate in two public debates about “Young people and society”. We have secured a bit of funding to make a short film using the Community Film Unit ( a social enterprise formed by successful Future Jobs Fund trainees) interviewing needy young people about their experiences leading up to their current predicament, and what if anything could have made a difference at  a key point. The point of the debates is to flag up the achievements of young people, but also the increasingly severe challenges that young people face.

So a productive week!

A long weekend beckons...obviously the key is Ireland v. England rugby international, plus involvement in a  local community arts festival , and re-starting my focus on the MA Theology and this academic year’s dissertation…Last Bank Holiday til Christmas….enjoy!!


Friday, 19 August 2011


Hi everyone,

I enjoyed my camping weekend in Dorset …lots of meteors in evidence, and seriously nice barbecue food …quail, black pig loin of pork (French pigs) and a bean/tomato/garlic sauce!! And of course, for someone born in Kent - Shepherd Neame Old Spitfire (beer).

But that was then, and this is now – it has been a busy week…I have agreed with my Chairman and the Chair of Surrey Youth Consortium to write to the Surrey MPs about the aftermath of the riots (outside Surrey, but close enough in Croydon) proposing two public debates which we will host in Guildford and Reigate/Redhill, about “Young people and Society” and inviting one or more MPs to participate in a panel discussion. We will be filming the experiences/views of young people (both needy and mainstream) as a prelude to the debate, and supplying some facts/figures about the achievements of amazing young people in Surrey .  

There is a lot of interest in an Office of Civil Society/ Lottery Transforming Local Infrastructure grant, which is potentially £600,000 over 18 months, but for which only ONE organisation can bid…and there are potentially two bidders – Surrey Community Action, and Surrey Voluntary Action Network (the district/borough CVS) . If the Lottery receives more than one bid, they will bin the lot. At present it does not seem possible to agree on which should be the ONE lead, and so there is to be a vote amongst the 43 organisations who have expressed an interest in the Surrey TLI…..shades of Eurovision Song Contest, and a risk that a popular, but weak bid might win, but not be strong enough in competition with other counties. Key meeting next week. We are supporting the SCA bid.

I have also begun work on a new venture – a Research Report for the sector in 4 Parts – National picture (Government policies etc), Surrey trends, Views of member organizations about their Achievements and Concerns, and my Conclusions. Should be ready in mid Sept. Interesting to note that youth unemployment keeps going up nationally, and is now going up again in Surrey and I am hastily writing the Annual Report for 2010/11 in time for a sub – committee meeting of Trustees on 13 Sept.

So I’m back to severe busy-ness, but it’s a sunny week-end in prospect ..Test Match, but I have to clear out the shed. Hope you have more fun than me!!


Friday, 12 August 2011


Hi everyone

Hope you’re still there after my two weeks in SW France, near Albi/ Toulouse. It was very relaxing and restorative, just what a holiday should be.

I returned on Monday to a massively fluctuating Stock Market and Bond market; UK manufacturing flatlined; a down -grading of the UK growth forecast; the shooting of Mark Duggan last Thursday, 4 Aug, and the riots and looting last weekend and in the early part of this week. Unremitting bad news.  A spark of hope lies in the response of local communities in the “broom army” clearing up, and the massively dignified and significant appeal for calm by Mr. Taraq Jahan whose son was one of the three men knocked down and killed in the hit and run car attack.

Mercifully in Surrey we escaped all this, but it remains shocking, and challenging.

I have been focused on catching up on emails and the backlog, but had a great meeting on Thursday about devising a bid for a HUB, whereby in Stage 1, NEET young people would register on a website and we would then take control of their journey into a short course to raise self-esteem, confidence and skills, and thence into volunteering, training and employment. In Stage 2 of the project we want to enable young people to set up social enterprise/become self employed…and run the HUB as a social enterprise itself. This work is in collaboration with Surrey Care Trust and Surrey (Furniture) Re-use network- itself a social enterprise – and we are heading for a Reaching Communities bid.

I am totally convinced it is this sort of initiative that will make a difference to the lives of young people who may be at the margins of society. Part of my holiday reading was a brilliant book by Andrew Mawson called “Social Entrepreneur” – his story (see Google) is amazing and inspirational. Short version….things happen locally, organically (not through government) through brilliant, ordinary people…government should invest in what has been proven to work. Recommended reading.

And so I end on a positive….lots more to say next week: the newly published Oftsed review of commissioning in 12 areas including Surrey, the Transforming Local Infrastructure bid in Surrey, and so on. 

I am off camping in Dorset this week-end with my three 30 –something sons, and 3 year old grandson…we will have serious fun!

Hope you do too.