|  Uncategorized   |  Seasons change, the bluebells bloom & there’s a spring in my step…

Seasons change, the bluebells bloom & there’s a spring in my step…

Starting in an unusually upbeat tempo – and so long as I avoid too much observation and commentary on the current state of politics it could stay that way. If only that were possible…. local, mayoral, a by-election and PCC elections are all underway. The outcomes would seem largely predictable – it’s like watching a slow motion car crash. I always thought that leadership included knowing when it was time to move on / when you’ve stopped adding value or when it was time to step aside and let others take over. In my own reflections on leaving a (relatively) big job in a (relatively) great organisation almost 4 years ago I’m sure I knew it was time to go – for me and them. It means I have always been able to look back fondly, to appreciate the difference I / we made and knowing that others could take things on.

And then I look at our current government – in their slow motion car crash clinging desperately to power in circumstances in which they’ve lost authority and trust. You wonder why? They’re (relatively) bright and capable people losing their grip, lurching ever more rightwards and lashing out at every opportunity. Whether it’s confected culture wars, post-Brexit economics or just looking a systems that have been broken over the last 14 years – it all just reflects country under pressures in ways that only a ‘change’ can start to address.

One can only hope that attacks on the trans communities, asylum seekers and now the sick and disabled has worn them out a bit – god knows who they’ll be coming for next.

Anyway – back to more upbeat stuff.

Work-wise I bid farewell to colleagues at the Skill Mill as my time as independent chair of the Special Purpose Vehicle overseeing investment through a social outcomes contract has drawn to a close. At it’s heart Skill Mill is a great organisation – with a really clear purpose working with some of the most vulnerable and challenging young people in the criminal justice system. It makes a really positive impact on many of the young people – creating work placements, within commercial activities with an environmental focus.

In my career I was always fairly sceptical about Social Impact Bonds / Social Outcomes Contracts as a way of funding ‘social’ activities – the chair role gave me a much greater appreciation of how they are constructed, how they operate and some of the challenges they present to both investors and delivery organisations. I might write something more formal about what I think I’ve learned and how voluntary sector organisations could / should approach this form of finance in the future.

And how investors might want to think about their engagement with VCS organisations.

Got drawn into various bits and bobs of business as the charity I chair in Brighton – including a very thorough 2 days assessment as part of our application to achieve the ‘Trusted Charity’ quality mark. Results of this application will be known in two weeks alongside any recommendations. Regardless of outcome it was a challenging, rigorous and enjoyable process. For me as the chair – I couldn’t have felt prouder about how the organisation responded to the process (lets face it – that could have felt like a really boring bureaucratic imposition) and the expertise, compassion and pride that so many staff exuded over the two days.

Invested quite a lot of time in family and cultural activities this week – well OK I met up with my daughters for different events:

Beyond the Bassline – an exhibition of 500 years of Black British music is on at the British Library. Its a great way to spend a couple of hours – reading, listening, watching and experiencing …. the section covering the 80’s was like looking at my record collection. 1st of the month its ‘pay what you can’ (minimum £1) so its also accessible.

After that I met D2 and we went to ‘Standing at the Sky’s Edge’ a new(ish) musical set in a Sheffield housing estate between 1960’s and 2020. Its about loss, change, pride, regeneration / gentrifcation and relationships. Set around the music of Richard Hawley – so literally nothing not to like. The talent and imagination on display is way beyond me.

Last night with D1 we saw Jane Weaver touring her new album and songs from her back catalogue. If she’s coming to a town near you – don’t miss her.

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