Cultural Playing Field

NCVO Board meeting, AGM and Hinton Lecture by Robin Simpson
November 28, 2008, 10:58 am
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , , , , ,

On Wednesday afternoon I was at The Law Society on Chancery Lane in London to take part in the National Council for Voluntary Organisations Board meeting and AGM. The Board meeting focused on the impact of the recession on the voluntary and community sector. The Voluntary Sector Recession Summit, which took place on Monday – jointly chaired by Stuart Etherington of NCVO and the Minister for the Third Sector, Kevin Brennan – resulted in the promise of a Government action plan for the sector by early 2009. The summit identified specific actions in the areas of research, capacity-building and public policy to help the sector cope with the economic downturn. In the Board meeting we looked at extensive research undertaken by the Charities Aid Foundation and others into the effect of earlier recessions on the sector, whilst recognising that this recession might be quite different and that the sector is now much stronger than it was. Nevertheless, it still seems likely that the major effects on the third sector will not be felt immediately: there is likely to be a 9-12 month lag effect in relation to charitable giving. Perhaps the most important message that came out of our discussion was that charities should not panic: most problems to date seemed to stem from perception rather than reality. NCVO and the other leading representative bodies have a key role to play in encouraging a calm, rational approach to emerging economic problems – while not underestimating their potential seriousness. This was the final meeting of the old Board: I was one of sixteen Trustees who stepped down at the AGM as the elected members of the new, smaller Board were confirmed. I’ve really enjoyed my two years as a NCVO Trustee and look forward to playing a role on the new Members’ Assembly which will meet twice a year to discuss major third sector policy issues. The AGM was followed by the annual NCVO Hinton Lecture – in memory of the former NCVO Director Nicholas Hinton. This year’s speaker was the journalist Simon Jenkins, a former editor of the Times and the London Evening Standard who now writes for the Guardian and has recently become Chair of the National Trust. His deliberately provocative lecture warned that the strength of the voluntary and community sector was eroding local democracy as successive governments had removed real power from local councils and started consulting ‘stakeholders’ such as professional groups, lobbyists and voluntary organisations. See:

Robin Simpson

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