Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Change is as good as a rest?

Change is not always a good thing, but the ability to adapt to it is.

I can feel the economy stiffen as we brace ourselves for a bumpy election and the subsequent cuts. 2010 is going to be tricky, but it seems that regardless of who wins, social enterprise is on the up and up.  Whether it's David Cameron talking about early years and the need for more social enterprise, or Doug Richard calling for more targeted business support for social enterpreneurs in yesterday's Telegraph, we seem to be on everyone's lips.

Banks such as RBS, senior directors from which I met last week, want to take their relationship with social enterprise to the next level.  One of the key changes since the recession is the move social enterprise has made from the CSR agenda in corporate institutions such as banks, to the commercial one. SEL, with nearly 2000 members, has become quite an attractive place to potentially access the new, growing market. Our job is to make sure that the financial, political and practical help out there is really what social enterprise needs, an ability that is sorely tested when social enterprises are driven to the brink when they lose key local authority contracts or customers in their supply chains have gone to the wall. SEL is heavily engaged in the firefighting that follows such set backs and I have to say, financial support for those in vulnerable situations is limited. Everyone wants to back a winner, and it's easy to talk about survival of the fittest, but as a historian, I know that if you want to change your economy as the Japanese did at the turn of the century, from rural to industrial, you have to support, invest and nurture your new markets.  If we want to see social entrepreneurs deliver services that are currently delivered exclusively through the public domaine, a sink or swim strategy simply won't work.

As I write this the removal men are packing up my Mother's house around me.  It's hard for her to let go of all those memories, but fear not, she has taken a mountain of them with her, in the shape of such things as family potraits, boxes of photos, and a bag of my late father's socks?! Tonight I am taking her out to dinner and tomorrow we make the final shove to the summit.

The old house seems so empty.  It makes you think about the speed of life. All too quickly children grow up and move away. One moment the family are falling over one another and the next you're rattling around empty rooms.  Note to self, enjoy my lot while they are still building their lives under our roof.

I shall be dining in my slippers tonight as it appears that they have packed my only shoes and locked them in the van. C'est la vie.

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