Thursday, 21 October 2010

Living in interesting times

The Chinese use the curse "May you live in interesting times", and I think I know why, because I am having a very interesting week and frankly I'm shattered.

Obviously yesterday was dominated by the CSR. As we suspected the news was dreadful if not shocking. Local Authorities are taking a hammering with a 7 per cent cut every year for the next 4 long, long years. The good news for our lot is there is to be a £100 million fund to help the sector manage the transition. I am not clear if that means funding to enable the transition of public services to models of social enterprise or support for charities and social enterprises supporting those made most vulnerable by the cuts or funding for the same organisations while they themselves look for methods of sustainability as local authority money dries up or indeed, all of the above.  We shall wait and see.

At the time the Chancellor was telling all I was in Brighton meeting up with my colleagues from the regions. These are truly challenging times as many of us are already facing profound difficulties as a result of the withdrawing of the Regional Development Agencies and finding it hard to get the support and representation we need. I was pleased to be able to tell colleagues that in a recent meeting with Ed Davey, Minister for amongst other things, social enterprise at BIS, that he told me he was very sympathetic to the plight of the social enterprise regions recognising their role in promoting and developing the Big Society. Lets hope he maintains that view.

As someone who has been knocking around this funny social enterprise world of ours for a while I know just how much work is done in the regions developing relationships with not only local social enterprises but also local support agencies. Yes its time to increase our sustainability and on that subject people were creative and bullish, but just like those local authorities who are being positive and developing social enterprise models, we need support and a little patience. Good behaviour should always be rewarded, particularly in tough times when you need risk takers to lead the way.

Social enterprise is all about progress that doesn't leave anyone behind, we should practice what we preach and recognise that by working together building on one another's strengths we will be more than the sum of our parts. It might be the age of austerity but I think its also the age of collaboration.

So what else made this week interesting? Well Sunday night, on returning from Cambridge with the family, our taxi was hit by an oncoming car at the Chiswick Roundabout. Like a Bond Martini we were shaken but not stirred and today I rushed home from work because my second son, Sam had been knocked out cold in a rugby match at school. He seems fine if a little sore but frankly I've had enough of drama. Interesting could be replaced by dull with no regret in my view, at least for a little while.

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