Thursday, 31 March 2011

Snogging Ed Miliband

Today was a fun one.
I kicked off by chairing a conference session at the King’s Fund on not-for-profit models in healthcare, then whizzed off to Voice11, the annual social enterprise jamboree, hosted by SEC, which ended for me with a lovely snog with the leader of the opposition, Ed Miliband.

The King's Fund event was fascinating because it was an audience with interested but fragile healthcare workers who felt at times quite angry about the pressure for change. My session was about models for service delivery and we heard from experts like Mutuo's Peter Hunt who told delegates about what was possible, and there was a real thirst for information framed in informed questions. To be honest, I like a challenge and coming from a medical family, even with some anxiety in the room, I felt at home.

Then I set off for the O2 arena, which sadly took so long to get to I missed participating in the CIC Association session, which I feel terrible about, sorry John. I did, however, make it for a schedule chat with Peter Marsh the Chair of Mutual’s Taskforce for the Cabinet Office. Peter and I set the world to rights just outside the main area and then I went into the conference proper, which was, well arctic.

As I headed in I bumped into Matthew Taylor, CEO of the RSA, who told me that having chaired a session in front of doors open to the elements, his nipples were rock hard and he was leaving. I shared that my sister calls those bullet nips, which should have been the odd moment of the day, but as it turned out, wasn't.

It was a great gathering of our lovely community, in a great venue, but by God, Matthew had not been exaggerating, it was cold. Patrick Butler editor of Society Guardian was too hypothermic to hold his coffee without spilling it and dear old Ed Mayo of Co-operatives UK was ever the gent by sharing his coat with Jan Tallis CEO of School Home Support while they were both huddled up, shivering on the podium.

I shared a late lunch with Ali Somers, former SEL Policy Director, who now heads up a masters programme in social enterprise at Goldsmiths University, followed later with a quick supper with the SEL team and Sam Coniff CEO of Livity, people broker extraordinaire, which was fun.  

Finally as I headed into the Social Enterprise Awards, I bumped into the leader of the opposition, Ed Miliband. I congratulated him on today’s announcement of his forthcoming marriage to Justine Thornton, which he was obviously really very chuffed about and which I think is lovely. Much hugging later, Ed went in to tell delegates that being at Voice was like coming home. GLL, the organisation run by my Co-Chair Mark Sesnan, won the Social Enterprise Mark award winner of the year and so, despite the cold, we were all feeling the love.  

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