Friday, 20 July 2012

Setting up Trustee Boards is like arranging flowers

It seemed obvious to me, but it caused a degree of hilarity at the Surrey Compact meeting yesterday, which is setting up the Compact as an independent charity and company. I have also been the butt of subsequent joshing by email.....most regrettable.

Not only is the Surrey Compact setting up independently, but the Surrey Sports Partnership is also considering cutting the umbilical cord with Surrey CC which hosts Active Surrey, but increasingly we're realising that the Council contributes between £50K and £70K of in kind support which is a lot to turn down.

On my favourite subject of commissioning/contracting I see Capita has indeed won a huge contract to provide back office support services to West Sussex CC (including finance, IT procuremnt even and support to the voluntary sector) worth something like £150 million...just at the time when KPMG have published a detailed study today  on outsourcing, which says that commissioners do it to off-load problems..which simply come back in different forms. It doesn't work.

Our new emphasis on volunteering is bringing results for our Members, and we have just recruited a volunteer Research Assistant who will be great for us - more later.

Just signing off the Mem and Arts for what I have always called the Woking social enterprise, but will hereafter be named the Surrey Youth Enterprise Community interest company(CiC). SO the social enterprise really is starting up - we check on office premises on Monday.

I am finalising the Lottery Bid for Surrey Youth Enterprise today in time to meet the Lottery next week, and a grant- making trust in the following week. I had a really interesting focus group discussion with young adults at the Amber Foundation on Monday about their views and hopes for self- employment, which is partly what this project is about. Fingers crossed.

We had a good meeting with uniformed organisations on Wednesday evening about the Community Covenant Grant bid which we are giving the title: "Building bridges; Delivering results". That bid has to be in by 1 October, initially to a Surrey Panel, and then to the MoD. Decision in December. Aim is to recruit and train more leaders to the uniformed organisations, and especially to the military cadets. We will  set up a web based "swap shop" to share physical resources (equipment, climbing walls, camp sites) and also specialist trainers/ instructors in archery, sailing, clay -pigeon shootin who are used by both military and civilian uniformed organisations and are in short supply. Fingers crossed again.

So it's been another really good week..and the sun is coming out for the Olympics and the school holidays.  Oh- the Trustees and Flower Arranging? Always need odd  numbers to work well!! (Very odd for Trustees!)


Friday, 13 July 2012

Why isn't every week like this?

It’s been a great week!

On Monday our great new Trustee, Matt Joblin came in to meet us all. Matt is Director of Surrey Community Film Unit which is a social enterprise and the relevance of which will become apparent later…count the mentions of social enterprise below!

Then I finished our draft contribution to a possible bid led by Surrey Community Action for the County Council’s infrastructure support contract, and so we are now ready to respond to whatever may occur there (open tender or selected bidders only).

I also finished our bid to the Lottery for the Surrey Youth Enterprise project which has four elements to it:

  • Running one day "how to" workshops for young people about self-employment, and social enterprise (delivered by people who have “done it” – not us)
  • Providing business mentors in support of these young people trying to get started
  • Engaging young people in setting up a website to provide information, advice , guidance, case studies, You Tube testimonials to young people
  • Signposting to funding sources (Prince’s Trust, Fredericks Foundation etc) 
Our vision is that young people in Surrey should have a (virtual) one stop shop that provides this support service, but one that is well networked to other bodies.

Our new volunteer, Volunteer Manager (Shelagh West) is beginning to have an impact,  and we have 2 volunteers this week to work with us, and more to work on other projects.

Our links to Guildford College are growing apace. For example, some students there will be setting up our “100 focus” group, being a virtual network of young people with whom we can consult about issues; we think this is preferable for them to being invited on to our Board, which necessarily looks at fairly dry topics like business plan, finance, performance monitoring etc. There are 5 projects in all with the College…

Meeting on Wednesday with Business in the Community (nationally) about their United Futures programme which is a national version of our “4x4 project”. (Ours was first!) We are to be a case study for them exemplifying the benefits of links between corporates/business and youth organisations, and we’re invited to exhibit this at a BitC regional event (in Guildford ) in January (more details soon).

Great meeting yesterday with the philanthropist with whom we’ve been working to set up a social enterprise. The CiC will now start up in September, and we will be providing work experience for students at Guildford College on apprenticeship courses. The numbers will be a handful, but it will be a demonstration project.

And finally ..only because I’ve run out of time because there is more…we have set up a Chairman level meeting between Surrey Youth Focus and our sister organisation in West Sussex about closer collaborative working, and bidding for contracts on a sub – regional basis- Surrey/Sussex is 2.6 mill population.

Family coming over this week-end to watch Final of polo (like FA Cup) so let’s hope it’s a bit drier on Sunday.


Friday, 6 July 2012


Our new volunteer, volunteer broker – Shelagh West is now getting her feet under the table and beginning to make the changes needed to enable member organisations to recruit more volunteers. We have tweaked our website to give greater prominence to volunteering, and she is also developing links already to organisations like Business in the Community who are looking for projects for their corporate volunteers. It will take a while to build up this service, but it is a key capacity building contribution from Surrey Youth Focus.

I am working with uniformed organisations (military and civilian) to put in an imaginative bid to the Armed Forces Community Grant Fund to enable the two groups to share resources and links. Talking of uniformed organisations, I have received a great video from Girlguiding Surrey West about the long term value of girlguiding to personal development and achievement. It will be on our website shortly.

My week has also been taken up with building up another impending bid to the Lottery and grant-making trusts for our Surrey Youth Enterprise support service aimed at encouraging young people into self-employment and social enterprise. The good news is that our own “Woking social enterprise” is progressing well now.

However, the real highspot of the week was going with my colleague Kate Peters to Shepperton Film Studios to watch two short films made by students (Year 10 and 11) of Magna Carta School who were taking a diploma course in film and media studies. They made the films with technical support from a professional – hence the film show at the private cinema the Korda Theatre at Shepperton Studios. The first film explored the negative images that young people encounter in their daily lives especially following last August’s riots, and they contrasted footage of the riots with filming from our Celebration of Youth event about the great things young people do.

The second film absolutely exemplified the last point and was the inspirational account of, and by Ben who is 16, and cares for his 19 year old sister, Ashleigh, who has Downs Syndrome. It was a "fly on the wall documentary" to which the whole family had very bravely consented. I was struck by the link between the two films with their underlying theme of the experience of discrimination, and yet the optimism and inspiration of young people.

It is a great project, and as soon as we get the films we’ll put them up on the website. Well done to Clare Erasmus (the teacher) and the students of Magna Carta school!”