Posted tagged ‘charity’

Rough Sleeping and the Big Society

March 4, 2011

Caught in the cross fire of local politicians and the Big Society

Westminster Council announced earlier this week that they were going to be:

consulting on plans to ask CLG to approve a bye-law that would outlaw rough sleeping and soup runs in a wide area that includes Westminster Cathedral piazza and the department’s Eland House headquarters.

Now there is a very easy response to this announcement and it goes something like this:


I’m well aware that this is not a simple issue. Apparently, the charities Thames Reach and St Mungo’s support the move, but other groups such as Housing Justice voiced their opposition. If I’m totally honest I really don’t know who’s right and a flippant response of WTF seems a bit cheap.

Anyway, I’m being distracted.

The interesting sub-point of this story is what it says about the Big Society.

In my mind the charities that hand out the soup and other food in Westminster Borough could definitely be described as part of the Big Society. These are charities that often have volunteers working for them. They have identified a need in society and have set out to solve it in their own way.

However, the local politicians who represent the voice of the wider population (or at least I assume they do) are in the process of passing a law that says that the charities, acting in their role as part of the Big Society, are not acting in the best interests of the whole community.

In effect the problem here is one of who is right? The citizens of the ‘Big Society’ soup runs or the elected politicians of Westminster council?


Came-wrong or Camer-on-the-other-hand?

February 22, 2011


At the risk of breaking the boundaries of anonymity, I can reveal that I’m too young to have experienced the Thatcher years.  I was alive through them, but was only aware of them as much as I now know of the Hadron Collider: it exists, it’s all pretty complicated and people either think it will give loads of answers or destroy the world.

Fast forward a couple of decades and the same words are starting to spring up around the latest incarnation of Tory government.  Privitisation, attacks on local services, greedy bankers: all of these are things which my parents talk all about but which I am just preparing to form a solid opinion of.  And you know what: I’m on the fence.

David Cameron’s recent announcement that businesses and charities will now have the ability to compete to deliver the services which in recent years have been coming solely from the public sector has been criticised from many corners for potentially destroying those services and opening the door for the private sector to bleed us all dry.  There is no way that any private company will do anything that doesn’t make them money, even if that means providing a sub-standard service and charging ever-increasing costs to do so.  Or does it?


On the sixth day of Christmas our bloggers gave to me

December 28, 2010

I know I'd donate

An idea for a new charity.

Over the winterval period (thanks Eric for sticking that phrase in my head) I’ve received quite a few e-mails from colleagues, suppliers, contacts and random organisations, many of which have followed a similar theme: “Happy Christmas, this year we didn’t send any cards but are sending you this e-mail instead, and with the money we saved on cards and postage we made a donation to save the cats/polar bears/forest/one toe sloths”.

Now, I don’t mind this; to be honest it makes my mantlepiece a little less cluttered and also saves on me filling the recycling bin with bits of old card.  However, I do object to the donation bit.

What do I care about cats/polar bears/forests/one toe sloths?!  Okay, forests are pretty useful what with the whole breating thing, but otherwise I can think of many different ways of spending that money.

Therefore I’m making a proposal.  Let’s set up a ‘public sector relief fund’, akin to those set up for national disasters.  Any Christmas card based donations can then be sent this way, contributing quickly to a sizeable pot of money which can then be used to help those public sector staff in need.  Just think: for £2 you can provide Edward in Accounts with the leaving party he deserves, or Shaniqua in Youth Services with a pen to use when signing on.

Every little helps.