Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Allison in wonderland and mad March hares

Hare's are reportedly mad in March because its their mating season and the promise of some hare on hare action makes them silly.  My frenetic behaviour can not be attributed to anything so interesting but I am even busier than usual. The spring brings with it tendering, planting and of course the election, so its all go.

We are going to consolidate our work with young people and so have put together proposals to develop our successful Future Jobs Fund programme, and add a new initiative with the Youth Sector Development Fund that will get young people on to the path of success through the door marked 'social enterprise'. Too many young people are struggling to find an opportunity and at the same time social enterprises are really committed to giving them a helping hand. The feedback we have had from employees and employers participating in our London Future's 500 program is wonderful, so we know we're on the right track.

I've been working with the team on our Investors in People award, a quality kite mark SEL has had since 2002. It seems our Assessor is happy to recommend us yet again. I particularly enjoyed his assessment feedback yesterday which told us staff regard working at SEL as rewarding and fun. Whilst I'm often wary of the use of the word fun; have you noticed that things billed as 'fun' never are? Nonetheless for staff to describe working in the SEL team as fun is a description I'll happily take to the bank. Folk having fun enjoy what they do and people who enjoy what they do tend to do it well, in my view.  

I am concerned that this election seems to lack the will to really get to grips with the issues. I can't work out if its politicians pulling their punches waiting for the opposition to slip up, or maybe they are all just badly briefed?  I have been doing my bit running round talking to anyone involved in the electoral process about social enterprise and what we see as the main issues. Namely:
  • The right for public sector workers to request to deliver services as social enterprises must be reaffirmed within the Department of Health and extended to all Government departments
  • Business support must address the needs of social enterprises, be they start-ups or public sector spin-offs.
  • Government must promote a strategy for social enterprise development that provides expert advice and guidance to would-be social entrepreneurs, exisiting public sector workers, local authorities and public sector procurers.
  • The new world where cuts are not always a disaster because social enterprise can create savings without compromising on quality can only happen if we mean it to happen. That demands leadership and investment.  
  • Government needs to understand that achieving a meaningful legacy around the 2012 Games cannot happen without social enterprise.  
  • Money, there still isn't enough in the system to achieve the growth social enterprise is capable of. We know what we need and where it can come from, high street banks encouraged to become community lenders, the Social Investment Bank, private investors and government lending. More in the system will yield more growth, its that simple.

These measures will decide whether social entrepreneurs become Mock Turtles or Cheshire Cats. To that end I am looking forward immensly to putting our Minister, Angela Smith and her Conservative and Liberal Democrat conterparts, Nick Hurd and Jenny Willott on the spot tomorrow at our Annual General Meeting.  At SEL we try to make our AGMs memorable and this year will be no exception.  We have arranged a hustings where members can ask their questions, I'll do my best to make sure they get some answers.

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