Friday, 10 February 2012


An odd week, partly because I've taken 2 days off to work on my MA Theology, so I have moved from the highly cerebral, not to say ethereal, to the practical.

So practical, that on Monday we had an office clear out / de-cluttering day, which we do every year to avoid the geological layers of files and unread, but “must keep” papers.

My more fundamental concern is that we seem to be getting to a point of stasis – where competing pressures cancel out, resulting in us all standing still, or in an alternative metaphor the blood circulating around the body politic more slowly. “The Big Society” seems moribund and no longer the subject of much public comment, whilst there is a risk of localism being overpowered by commissioning which leaves power strongly in the hands of government, whether central or local. Clearly the more substantial debate is in the NHS about the outworking of commissioning and a mixed economy of public, private and charity sector including social enterprise.

I mention all this as it was the main topic of discussion at the Surrey Voluntary Sector Chief Executives Group last Friday, at which widespread concerns were voiced about the commissioning /contracting process generally, and with particular examples across all services. This was not the sector being defensive, but an expression of deep concern about contract implementation, and impact on clients.

I gave a presentation to the Rotary Club of Guildford District at lunchtime on Wednesday about the work of Surrey Youth Focus and its members, in return for my (very nice) roast pork and sticky toffee pudding.  This has since prompted some useful follow up contacts. I  also spoke to one Rotarian who has prostate cancer and is walking with two friends and a back – up support team the 1,000 miles from John 0’Groats to Land’s End to fund raise for an expanded urology unit at Guildford hospital. How wonderful! Meanwhile the group of young parents we are supporting to set up their own charity to support, train and advise new young (teenage) parents are themselves making good progress.

So maybe this is the big society….just people getting on and making things happen…regardless.

Enjoy Italy v. England but I am at the Old Vic in London watching Comedy of Errors. Have fun.


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