Friday, 27 September 2013

As Good as it Gets

We had good news this week that Henry Smiths (grant-making trust) have given us  a grant over two years to provide an improved funding advice service to our members.

This will comprise: funding workshops in evenings/week-ends to ensure that uniformed organisations can attend; tutoring on making grant bids; and improved advice on the website.

We will now have addressed the two core issues for many member organisations: getting funding advice and volunteers, for in regard to volunteers we have “wanted & needed” forms on our website, a memorandum of understanding with Business in the Community about collaborative working, and a strategic connection to Surrey Chambers. It’s as good as it gets!

I rather belatedly conducted appraisals/development interviews with my 3 team is just great that we all get on so well, and are described as 'a happy team'. We all spend too long at work for it to be otherwise, but it is not always so in my long experience, but is very gratifying.

The Surrey Youth Enterprise is beginning to buzz- we are recruiting 3 apprentices through Guildford College right now. The enterprise sources world class innovative products and will be marketing them into Surrey/UK. The products are: amazing CCTV software that is world-beating; vehicular/personal trackers; software for laying out and designing publications; a process for regenerating industrial batteries in an environmentally friendly way. The “social” part of the enterprise lies in our recruitment and training of disadvantaged young people.

CommUniLAB is also beginning to buzz, and we will be setting up the first stage of the website soon.

So a very positive week (again!)

Went to Amberley Castle (Hotel/restaurant) for wedding anniversary Sunday lunch –romantic, but expensive! Grandchildren this Sunday- fish fingers and sausages all the way! Enjoying Kate Mosse’s “Labyrinth”.  She comes from Chichester and the novel is set in and around Carcassonne – an area we know quite well.  And MU beat Liverpool!


Friday, 20 September 2013

Prime Minister's Stairs

I was invited to 10 Downing St some years ago (along with about 130 other people) to a reception held by Tony and Cherie Blair, who were charming – and I did speak with the PM -  in recognition of work done to assist Government Departments (in my case about community planning) . SO I have walked up /down the Prime Minister’s stairs…….

But the slot at our AGM on Tuesday evening called “Prime Minister’s Stairs” called  turned out to be a line dancing style networking opportunity that went down a storm. So too did the election of our new Young Trustees – 3 great people who will be a huge asset to SYF. We also approved the succession planning for a new Chairman from next February, by the election of Lesley Myles MBE DL as our Chairman Designate. WE had an excellent speaker in Jon Boagey (Deputy CEO of the National Youth Agency) who pointed to the scale of cut-backs in statutory youth services, and some other current youth work challenges. 
After the AGM we are now preparing for the Celebration of Youth performance event, on Sat 19 Oct at 2.00ish at Surrey Uni and had a meeting with a student from Farnham College who will be our brilliant Presenter for the afternoon.

By contrast to all this jollity, I was contacted by a very worried mother concerned about her son who had been arrested for using /intent to supply cannabis - we are helping them both by referring them to good contacts. I was at the Consortium Board this morning to hear about the impact of welfare benefit changes on young people and the service the Consortium is developing in partnership with the Surrey Disabled People’s Partnership, and finally today I have just picked up an analysis by Surrey Public Health of suicide rates in Surrey.. 
BUT this weekend is to be sunny, and it was our 41st wedding anniversary last Monday…and so  I am taking the real boss out to lunch to  a very romantic restaurant for Sunday lunch. Romance lives!” 

Friday, 13 September 2013

CommUniLAB & Barclays Bank

I am delighted to say that Barclays Bank are the national sponsor and champions of our CommUniLAB project. This will be a virtual learning network made possible by a website and discussion board … into which participating members from Communities, Universities, Local Authorities and Business can ping issues – adequacy of child care provision for example – which we will accelerate round the network, and then , if they gain traction from the perspective of  others, we will  hold workshops about that issue, and arrive at actions.

The point of CommUniLAB is to bring together the perspectives of different sectors/cultures  on an issue, thereby enabling people to meet and share views from sectors with which they would not normally engage. The next step is for us to approach other corporates and possible  members of this innovative project. Please contact me directly if you are interested in this.

On Tuesday evening I was at the launch of the new SE regional office of Barclays Bank Wealth here in Guildford, and on Thursday evening the launch of “Surrey Uncovered” by the Community Foundation for Surrey hosted by Surrey University . This research report is aimed at demonstrating to possible philanthropists that Surrey does have its social issues even if generally wealthy.

On Monday, I was in the SHIFT Room at County Hall being the rooms which are set aside for innovative discussions, and so have very white walls and grey plastic flooring to aid transformational thinking.  The discussion was about developing SCC’s youth services, and interaction with the voluntary sector.

I had  a briefing  session yesterday with my current Chairman, and prospective Chairman Designate – succession planning – who we hope will be voted in at our AGM next Tuesday evening. We also will be electing great new Trustees to the Board then, including Young Trustees, who I know will be brilliant.

Great meeting in prospect with a social media entrepreneur who I am hoping will enable us to offer an improved “Getting started” 3 day workshop for young people wanting to set up in self-employment/sole trader or in a wider business/social  enterprise. SO..not just philanthropic giving, important though that is, but also creating new businesses as a way to re-generation of communities. We need both “Giving AND creating” as a businessman observed yesterday evening.  

Check out new job vacancy in our team on our website.

And that’s only about half the good news this week ..I even get paid for doing this fun work!!
All the best, 

Friday, 6 September 2013

Gearing Up

A second quietish week with few meetings, but next week is mad, and presages the long haul to December. So it has been a week concentrating on internal matters (and some eternal, but that’s another matter…the power of words..change one letter and you end up in a different world!!)

Yes INTERNAL…we had a visit from colleagues in SATRO wanting to find out why we chose a Cloud computing system – I write this from home at 8.15 am prior to going off to a meeting in Horsham with our sister organisation West Sussex Council for Voluntary Youth Services – and have all my email and files accessible to me. We are all totally independent of our office location. SO, realising that there may be a wider interest, we will be running a workshop about cloud computing.

I have also been preparing for submitting to the Charities Evaluation Service for their Level 2 quality assurance scheme called Pqasso –“Practical quality assurance for small organisations” . We already have a Level 1 award, but it expires on 23 November after 3 years. So we are re-submitting at a higher level. I am very pleased that we don’t have to do too much work to bring ourselves up to Level2, unless I am wholly mistaken, which is pleasing as it means that our procedures and practices have become embedded.

We are working on the press launch of CommUniLAB with our sponsors, and will tell you more next week.

We have been invited by Surrey CC to consider taking over the management of Woking Youth Arts Centre in Knaphill, Woking, where the principal tenant is a member organisation of ours – Peer Productions – who do brilliant work in developing young people as actors in plays they devise themselves to illustrate social problems. These plays are then performed at the WYAC  and taken in to schools. It  would be a departure for us to undertake property management, and there are some very serious issues to consider. This will be a Trustee Board decision…but it is interesting strategically….there are 32 SCC youth centres.

Finally, we are preparing for our AGM on Tuesday 17 September at 5.00pm at Walton Firs – a beautiful 25 acre camp site an (Ian Botham) stone’s throw from junction 10 on the M25. We have the Deputy CEO of the National Youth Agency (NYA) as main speaker. Should be of great interest to youth workers ..the professionalization of youth work…and to Members. Just email me if you’d like to come along.

I get older this weekend and possibly wiser…I am thrilled to have treated myself to two brilliant theology books…I know….I know that’s what my wife thinks too  ..but it takes all sorts!

Up in London at the weekend to support daughter in law in charity half-marathon..running for a  university friend who, as the result of an accident, is now blind and paraplegic …..very humbling.