Friday, 20 December 2013

Christmas Review

I just wanted to offer some seasonal reflections, looking back on 2013, and suggest a fine present for last minute shoppers!

Surrey Youth Focus has had a very good year so far. The staff team is the strongest and most professional ever, and I greatly enjoy working with ( for? ) them all : Kate Peters (Funding and Finance; Su Freeman(Marketing and events), Karen Moore(Website and social media) , and Tasha Parkin (Workforce development and HR advice). We do work well together and it does make working enjoyable.

 Our membership has been sustained and we are launching a big marketing campaign early in the New Year aimed at some 300 potential new organisations. We are also holding discussions in West Sussex (with the County Council and former members of WSCVYS) about whether they would value a "West Sussex Youth Focus" or similar.

I met this week with Surrey CC's property person to discuss terms and conditions for us to take over the property management of Woking Youth Arts Centre (5 year lease), which we would do through a social enterprise with separate governance/finances from SYF but all subject to the agreement of our Trustees on 4 Feb.

The advertisement for a CommUniLAB project manager is published on our website, and again we'll have a big marketing push in the New Year.

The social enterprise is now going well, and  the new Apprentice starts on 6 January
I've had a couple of meetings this week about the re-commissioning of mental health services (£9 mill pa for each of 3 years) - tenders due out next August, and the probability is that a lead agent model will be sought. I had a useful meeting with the Director of Public Health about the links between her agenda(obesity, mental health , teenage pregnancy etc) and that of youth workers in the voluntary sector who address the same issues.

FINALLY the last minute Christmas book you should be buying is written by our President,  Robert Baden -Powell and is called"The diary of a dog" - the hilarious and touching story of a racing greyhound called Bandit. Proceeds from sales are to two charities You can buy it (price £12.99) from

Happy Christmas,

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Grumpy CEO

Intensely busy, like everyone else I meet at present.

Good meeting on Monday with Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner about cybercrime - a classic Surrey crime (like domestic violence, and excessive alcohol consumption). We have agreed to promote a train the trainer  programme about it, and with particular reference in our case to cyber-bullying.

The Surrey Charity CEOs are up in arms about a Surrey CC report from Adult Social Care that proposes moving both commissioning and providing into a Local Authority Trading Company, thereby preserving an internal service whilst appearing "innovative". West Sussex CC are doing something similar by "outsourcing" to staff mutuals. Nobody minds about competition but this has the appearance of protectionism.

 Why now you ask? Well Nick Hurd sent an important letter to local authority Leaders (25 April 2013) in which he encourages them to do this. Just come back from a National Consortium of Social Enterprises workshop at which NOMS, SERCO and others were explaining the opportunities for social enterprises, but always at the bottom of the food chain (tier 3 - ie sub-subcontractor). I was presenting on Consortia and social  enterprise.

More strategically I am concerned (hence the grumpy) that the boundaries between private .public and voluntary sector are fast becoming yet more confused and blurred. There are two potential problems: first a descent into the sort of lack of accountability for service delivery that in other places we call corruption in failed states, and second a lack of transparency and electoral accountability of government (whether central or local).

Met on Wednesday with a very positive  person from Crawley CVS and "Young Crawley" from whom we have much to learn - they have a Lead agency a consortium of 17 service providers working with young people. Some providers are very small volunteer only neighbourhood charities. Impressive.  

Good meeting with my new Chairman Designate about succession planning for my post and we have the process(only) organised.

Met too at the Woking Youth Arts Centre to check over the interior layout and marketing potential, and am meeting this afternoon with our charity lawyer to set up the SYF property management company to run it. Woking BC are advising on its market potential for bookings by local users.

The Boss has told me Christmas is coming, and that I need to get going on I'm taking Friday off on leave. So that just makes me more Grumpy!Bah Humbug!

Friday, 6 December 2013

Reaching Out

AS regular readers know we are constantly trying to improve what we do, so this week we have been looking at how to extend our reach out to the voluntary youth sector at large, not just to our own members. To this end we've been making or commissioning some improvements to our website to make it more accessible and interesting. We've also been sharpening up our Member offer, and will be having a big marketing campaign in the New Year.

We've advertised our CommUniLAB project manager post (see website) and concluded the contract with our first young Apprentice for Surrey Youth Enterprise.

We have been in discussion with Surrey CC about improving their processes  for the administration of the County small grants scheme, which is now pretty much spent out of its £220,000. We are hopeful that  it will be run by us again next year.

I went to a joint meeting of the Youth Justice Board and the 14-19 Partnership on Thursday to hear about the "Public Service Transformation" work being done between Surrey CC and Government. The short version is that SCC and partners are negotiating for a transfer of Government funding to local government IF SCC can demonstrate how it can save the Government money by getting more young people(eg NEETs and those on JSA into employment. There was also a very telling presentation by one of SCCs Area Managers in the Youth Support Service about Safeguarding issues- making the point that safeguarding is not only about very young children , but that in law a child is up to age18.

I was at the Active Surrey annual conference yesterday afternoon(I have been on the interim board of the Surrey Sports Strategy). Good presentations on how to motivate people to undertake sport/exercise..NOT by telling them about the long term risk of heart disease/obesity, but by emphasising the short-term benefits -fun with friends,glowing skin, challenging self, and securing emotional buy in. Also an excellent talk on why we should all use social media for marketing, and especially to recruit volunteers.

For friends in West Sussex - a very useful report -"Sussex Uncovered" - was featured on our West Sussex  e-bulletin and much referred to - published by the Sussex Community Foundation. Huge difference in average household income - Surrey £39,000 and Sussex £27,000.

Carols, mulled wine and mince pies this evening! Very festive!