Friday, 30 September 2011


Interesting week – very important discussions on Tuesday morning between the County Council and infrastructure organizations – CVS, Surrey Community Action, ourselves and others, about funding for next year, and the Council’s intentions to move to a commissioning model from 2013/14, so 2012 becomes the preparatory “get your act together year”. This links to a parallel stream of work I have mentioned before, namely the sector’s own bid for the Transforming Local Infrastructure grant of potentially £600,000.

The good news is that the sector is moving quickly now to shape quite radical (though not new) proposals which have a chance of success because the £600,000 would ease the undoubted pain of transition.

However it will feel very different for the sector to become a contractor within a commissioning model, and there are in my mind two conditions which the sector has to address: first, that the infrastructure organizations have to become a consortium (like the Surrey Youth Consortium) to be able to bid against the likes of Capita and Serco, and secondly the sector has to see beyond just being commissioned to its wider role outside of being commissioned to assess need and to secure funding from social philanthropy and social finance.

Which brings me to the four social finance projects we’re trying to promote, and that HALOW had a really positive meeting with Surrey CC commissioners about moving out – county young people with disabilities into supported living in-county through HALOW’s work . It is a potential social finance loan if not a social impact bond. Very encouraging at last. We contributed to a Surrey’s Big Society report to the Surrey Strategic Partnership on Wednesday evening; interesting to note that West Sussex CC has already set up a fund to promote new social enterprises, as well as the same Big Society grants fund.

New Leader at Surrey CC  with Dr Povey standing down and Cllr David Hodge taking over. My Chairman and I were due to meet David Hodge last week in his capacity as Cabinet member for Finance, but the meeting was cancelled because of these changes - we will rearrange!   And my good colleague, Jean Roberts–Jones, CX of Surrey Community Action left yesterday to take up a new, and similar post in Eastleigh where she lives, and we wish her well.

The arrangements for the two public debates about “Young people and society “ – Guildford 21 October and Epsom 25 November are now in place and we are promoting widely, so that we can have a vibrant public discussion. No space to tell you about productive meetings with “Moo Moo Youth Marketing”(sic), or the Surrey 14-19 Partnership – more next week.

And finally England rugby continued to progress nicely against Rumania (ok their second team) but the game I have been apprehensive about is tomorrow 8.30 am ITV1 against Scotland. For the two of you not interested in the rugby, there is always a SCORCHIO week-end!!

Thursday, 22 September 2011


 A quiet week by my standards mostly organising the forthcoming public debates about “Young people and Society” to be held in Guildford on Friday 21 October from 1-3.00pm at St Saviours Church, and on Friday 25 November at the NESCOT college in Epsom also from 1.00 to 3.00pm. We have a panel of speakers and it should be an interesting public debate. One of the background factors about our society is reflected in the UNICEF report on children’s wellbeing, researching why UK children aged 9-13 are so unhappy compared to counterparts in Sweden and Spain, and this is on our website.

We have also put up on the website a superb report by New Philanthropy Capital on “Early Interventions: An economic approach to charitable giving” that assesses the economic savings from early interventions and encourages the social finance market to invest in this area. Whilst the case for early intervention has been known, and proven for over a decade, we have not taken it forward significantly because of the argument about double funding (maintaining existing services whilst also targeting high need families) and public authorities have typically not afforded it. The social finance argument removes this difficulty by using an alternative funding stream, but does still depend on public authorities being able to discern cost savings.

We had a really enjoyable team awayday on Tuesday planning our modest move into charging for some services on a consultancy basis as a way of moving towards our target of diversifying funding sources. This followed a half day training course on consultancy skills on a pro bono basis by a consultant. I think we all feel very energized by the prospect of what we intend to do …and we have an action plan. It was a really positive session. 

Then we have the development of Surrey’s Transforming Local Infrastructure grant bid (£600,000) that has to be submitted by the end of October, and a consultation meeting about it today.

And the news on Twitter today is that the Leader of Surrey CC Dr Andrew Povey is standing down shortly …which might explain why the meeting my Chairman and I had carefully planned and prepared for with the Deputy Leader was cancelled a short notice……

I am off to Cornwall on Friday for a long week-end with that part of our family that includes the grandchildren so that their parents can go to a “no children” wedding in Cornwall on Saturday. Rugby ( England v. Rumania )  is at 6.00 am on Saturday morning,  so it’ll be a long and exhausting day !

Maybe not such a quiet week after all!

Friday, 16 September 2011


Well this has been an odd week for various (undisclosed ) reasons.
Moving quickly on – it was gratifying to receive high praise from our external examiner (auditor) on Tuesday for our Report and Accounts 2010/11 and be told we are a “very well managed charity”. Trustees and I realise that the Report and Accounts is a key marketing tool and opinion shaping device.    I had a long conversation with a colleague Chief Executive about the possible application of social finance in his area, and it seems that whilst not a panacea there is a growing awareness of the potential of social finance. My grant bid to a GMT in this area has been acknowledged and is being assessed – fingers crossed.
The study visit by the DfE last week has led to some follow ups and this is really encouraging.
Surrey Sports Board (Wed)  is now working on the implementation of strategy and I have convened a meeting of our members from the Sports sector next week so that we can share achievements and concerns and information about funding and other opportunities. This will build into the Research Report I’m writing as an influencing upwards report about the voluntary youth sector.
We have a Team awayday next week to plan our consultancy work and to address related matters in the business plan.  
The public meetings about “Young People and society” to which we have invited MPs are now set up for 21 October in Guildford (St Saviours’s Church) and in  Epsom (NESCOT) on 25 November – both are from 1.00pm – 3 pm. In this context it was interesting to skim read this week’s UNICEF report on Children’s Wellbeing (aged 8 to 13) focusing on UK children compared to those elsewhere in Spain and Sweden, and subtitled “The role of inequality and materialism”.
Which brings me quickly to the fact that on Saturday I’m going swimming with son and grandson, aged 3 (the UNICEF report emphasizes the importance of the extended family), and of course to Sunday at 7.00am ITV1 England v. Georgia …following the win against Argentina.
Enjoy your week- end!

Friday, 9 September 2011


A week when all around me seems to be changing.

I am part of the Surrey Transforming Local Infrastructure bid team which is being led by Surrey Community Action (generic infrastructure body), after a vote amongst the 43 organisations interested in the TLI in Surrey. We have a small bid writing team from 7 voluntary, community and faith sector infrastructure bodies. The bid will be for the £600,000, and must be evidence based and transformative. There are tensions in a two tier county between county-wide and local infrastructure bodies, to say nothing of specialist ones like Surrey Youth Focus. A great challenge, but also a great opportunity….we need to take it because expenditure cuts and commissioning will compel a more radical coming together in the VCFS ..or the death knell.

So the future in this sphere lies is in consortia where individual organizations – SCA, CVS, etc all retain their unique identity and independence, but agree to pool expertise to bid for large contracts.

Talking of which we had a very interesting study visit on Wednesday from the DfE and the OCS about the innovative work we’re doing in Surrey as between the commissioning role (Surrey CC’s Services for Young People), the Surrey Youth Consortium as a provider, and Surrey youth Focus in our enabling and brokering role. Our message to our Governemnt colleagues was that Surrey is being massively innovative and we should be tapped into more by Government. It was a useful meeting.

We are setting up two public meeting (in Guildford 21 October and Reigate / Redhill on 25 November) about “Young people and Society” from 1.15 – 3.15pm. to enable public discussion of recent issues.

I had a RAISE (Regional Action and Involvement South –East) Board meeting in the week – RAISE is re-organising and reshaping itself too, and being led superbly by its Chief Executive.

Am waiting to hear about success or otherwise of a grant bid to a Trust; this is an attritional process of bidding until successful..   bit like job applications. 

And now for the important bit: England v, Argentina Sat 9.30 am ITV1 in the local pub..full English breakfast and pint of Guinness.. England win..happy days. There is no alternative, as a (in) famous lady once said!!

Have a triumphant weekend!