Thursday, 31 October 2013

"CEO Doubts Team"

Well for some it has been half-term, but for the rest of us it began with a stormy Monday morning and a meeting at County  Hall with the Chief Executive of Surrey CC and some of his senior mangers with charity sector chief executives. All the charity chief execs scheduled to attend did so, despite the weather, and to  our collective delight it was a very positive and productive meeting about how we might all work better together.

The advertisement to recruit two young apprentices for the social  enterprise have been posted on the National Apprenticeship Service website today, and we hope to have appointed them by the time of our launch to invited guests before Christmas.

I have sent out the agenda and papers for our important staff/trustees awayday on Saturday 9 November when we'll be considering our longer term direction of travel from 2014-17; we always operate with a three year strategy and an annual business plan. We have all been hurrying along to fill in any gaps in procedures/practices in readiness for our Pqasso Level 2 submission (funded by Henry Smiths) and if we;re successful we'll be joining an elite group of just 70 charities with this quality mark.(We already have level 1).
As..OK ..Assistant England Coach, and going to Twickenham on Saturday with at least one of my sons, I am rather doubtful of England's preparations as the Aussie are battle hardened against NX, S. Africa and Argentina, and we have several new pairings. Hence the doubts...but a couple of beers and a steak pie will help. Have fun - I will!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Lots to Celebrate

Last Saturday we held  our excellent Celebration of Youth performance event by young people and exhibitions. You can read the story on our website and in  local newspapers like Surrey Times.

This was followed by a Trustees Board meeting on Tuesday evening at which we agreed to take up the offer from Surrey CC to undertake the property management of the Woking Youth Arts Centre; we have  a number of requirements if this project is to go forward from next April, but I daresay these can be met by Surrey CC. 
Trustees also confirmed our offer out to former West Sussex CVYS members to join Surrey Youth Focus, and  this offer is beginning to be taken up. 
The social enterprise now has its first employee – a disabled young person who has been retained to do financial admin. She has been a volunteer elsewhere and illustrates how volunteering can lead to jobs. We are beginning the search for at least 3 young apprentices right now in customer care/sales. We have some £100,000 orders in prospect. So something else to celebrate.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Who knows where the time goes?

This week has flashed by…I know ..time management..priorities…Drucker..intensely busy, but I hope you all get the reference/ “homage”  above to the late great Sandy Denny and Fairport Convention! Got ticket for  Bellowhead in Guildford  soon,  AND, rugby fans, to go with my wonderful sons to go to watch England v Australia on 2 Nov at Twickers. Male bonding at its best!! (I had better stop there in case I get myself into trouble..)

Brilliant week! Monday saw an interesting discussion led by SCC’s consultants, both of whom I know, who are preparing the vol. sector to bid for the £9mill pa mental health support to children and young people to be tendered next year as a county wide contract. The challenge to us in the fragmented charity sector is to collaborate together  to bid. Very interesting to compare/contrast with the way in which the same Directorate in SCC put out the local prevention framework to (grant) bids. The difference is the involvement of the health sector in the mental health spec. and having been gung ho about “World Class Commissioning” they have now realised the perils.

Meeting of the Charity Chief Execs this (Friday ) afternoon to prepare for meeting with SCC ‘s top management on 28 Oct on the same range of issues.

Great meeting with Guildford FE College about : our self- employment workshops/recruiting apprentices for the social enterprise/ CommUniLAB.

Top form meeting of my inner cabinet of Trustees addressing big strategic issues for us: our offer into West Sussex, and the possibility of taking over the management of the Woking Youth Arts Centre- 4 hour meeting, but really careful and positive discussion led superbly by my Chairman, David Hypher.  

Interviewed on Wednesday to appoint a Workforce Development and HR Adviser – really enjoyable interviews, and we are spoilt for choice; very fortunate position to be in.

TOMORROW – SAT. 19 Oct is the CELEBRATION OF YOUTH performance event at Surrey Uni’s management centre, by young people. Exhibition stands from 11.30 am (magician, pop up cafĂ©, buskers) the show at 12.30 pm. All free and all welcome.
Do come! 

Friday, 11 October 2013

Surrey & Sussex?

This has been another really interesting, indeed exciting week. It began well with a meeting with Woking Borough Council’s Economic Development Manager about running our workshops for the borough’s  young people about How To get into self-employment/set up in business. Very positive discussion and great offer coming up for Woking’s young people – “Start-up Woking”.

This was followed by briefly attending the superb Careers Opportunities Fair at Epsom Racecourse prior to joining the Surrey CC 14-19 Workshop in the afternoon  about the changes under the Children and Families Bill to provision for those with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND). The concern is that the number of children and young people with autism is increasing rapidly – from 10,000 in 2009 to 11,300 in 2033, and since the cost of care for these young people (up to age 25) is substantial , this is a huge growth pressure against declining budgets.

This theme was continued at a workshop in Worthing (West Sussex) at which I was talking to about 15 disability groups about consortia working. Again the move to personalised budgets being held by families of c &yp with disabilities was the key theme. This was my first real exposure to West Sussex Council for Voluntary Youth Services (WSCVYS) members , of whom there are 80 in all – a bit like Surrey Youth Focus, and to whom we are offering free membership with us as WSCVYS is closing this week finally. All this is by prior arrangement so that the legacy of WSCVYS could be preserved, as we have been working closely together for some years, and have a Memorandum of Understanding about collaborative working.

SO on Monday we will be writing out to WSCVYS members offering free membership of Surrey Youth Focus (paid for by WSCVYS legacy funding) enabling them to access all our services if they wish, and with me running networking and consortium building workshops for them, and meeting up with West Sussex CC commissioners – also paid fro out of WSCVYS legacy funding. We genuinely do not know how this will be received I have lived in West Sussex for 40 years I know that the two counties are very different… we are just tip-toing forward for now, but a Surrey – (West) Sussex link would be very exciting in the long run.

Interviewing next week to appoint a Workforce development and HR adviser…one of the big issues in SEND/SE7 /personalisation is about training personal assistants (carers) for families of disabled children and young people.

Press launch of CommUniLAB on Monday with Barclays Bank. Then interviewing on Wed to appoint a Workforce development and HR adviser…one of the big issues in SEND/SE7 /personalisation is about training personal assistants(carers) for families of disabled children and young people, and on we go….to Celebration of Youth on Saturday 19 Oct at 12.30 at Surrey Uni.  Free. All welcome….and it will be brilliant!

Out all day this Saturday at a conference at Sussex Uni. Walk on Sussex Downs on Sunday followed by pub lunch with friends to celebrate a birthday..all go!!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Surrey Connects

Lots of good news…. 
First that Surrey Connects (not unlike an LEP)  have committed to sponsoring our CommUniLAB project. It is great to have their support and confidence in the project, and in consequence of having this additional funding we are now moving on quickly to commission the website and to recruit a  part–time project manager to move it forward. We’re working with Barclays, the main sponsors on the press/publicity launch. VERY exciting project.

Surrey Youth Enterprise – the social enterprise that we have been instrumental in setting up - is also committing to join CommUniLAB. Incidentally, the social enterprise will be marketing world-class cctv software, sourced in India and for which we have exclusive UK rights. It is amazing…already installed into every airport in India..and half the price of competitors.  We currently have £100,000 of orders for this alone….. We have four other world class products to offer, and the CiC will be launching these at a reception on  4 Dec at the Leatherhead office.  Currently recruiting 2 young apprentices and other staff.

Surrey (Youth Focus) connects also to our sister organisation in West Sussex, (West Sussex Council for Voluntary Youth Services) and with whom we have had a Memorandum of Understanding about close working. Sadly they have now shut down, but as part of ensuring their legacy they are transferring some funding to us so that we could provide a service to their members in – access to our Member Benefits, e-bulletin, funding bulletin and workshops about future needs/consortium building  and soon. This is Surrey connecting into West Sussex and is potentially a very significant development for Surrey Youth Focus. We’ll just have to see if we can help the West Sussex youth organisations in a way that they find helpful..time will tell.

Monday saw a reception at the brilliant Skillway (arts and crafts charity working with disadvantaged young people in Godalming) to celebrate the receipt of  funding and new machine tools from the International Rotary Club (including from India!). They do utterly brilliant work at Skillway.

I was part of a small group that met with the Chief Exec of Surrey CC to plan a workshop between SCC and the charity sector about partnership working. I thought it was an excellent meeting; there is a reality that until/unless the vol sector becomes mainly/wholly independent of government grants/contracts there is bound to be a dependency, and sometimes if handled badly a sense of subservience that hence engenders bitterness towards the hand that feeds. That did NOT happen on this occasion – the word was “symbiosis”, as in “symbiotic relationship” wherein differences in scale count for nought because of the mutuality. The further reality (though not part of the usual  way of thinking in Surrey’s civil society ) is that taxpayers pay the salaries of public servants (the clue is in the word “servant”) and so any sense of superiority would be wholly misplaced. I think we in the vol sector should be more confident in the value of what we do, and yet realistic.

Closing date today for applications for new Workforce development and HR post in our team – all looking good.