Before Christmas, Mike Wild (Chief Executive of Macc) and Nigel Rose (Macc’s Strategic Lead on Commissioning) met with Geoff Little (Deputy Chief Executive of Manchester City Council) and Carol Culley (Assistant Chief Executive, Finance and Performance). We wanted to discuss the impact not just of the next wave of public sector cuts but the prolonged effects of recession. We also wanted to explore the Council’s views on how the voluntary and community sector can rise to meet the challenges faced by the communities in Manchester.
My role is to lead Macc, developing the organisation so we play a useful role in the life of Manchester. I keep a watch on policy issues, try to be creative in new ways to make more good things happen in the city and speak up on behalf of the local voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. I build relationships with a wide range of partners and support our Trustees in ensuring Macc and the rest of the sector makes a real difference in Manchester. In other words I try to get more people doing socially useful stuff.
I think it’s generally recognised that the biggest social and economic divide in the country is not between North and South but between London and The Rest of the Country. Alex Swallow’s latest blog for Third Sector has finally prompted me to set down some of my thinking on this and how it affects our sector. http://alexswallow.thirdsector.co.uk/2013/12/10/decentralising-power-and-distributing-ideas/
At our Spirit of Manchester awards event last month one of the categories was for Most Successful Campaign. We wanted to acknowledge campaigning work because we’ve always believed that it’s the job of charities not just to meet needs but to drive change for the longer term. The history of social change in this country has been driven by the campaigning efforts of groups for centuries.
During the recent bout of hot weather, I somehow managed to come down with a cold. I not only felt ill, I also felt ridiculous: I mean who gets a cold in the middle of a heatwave? As I write this, figures have just been released showing that the country’s economy is slowly starting to grow again after the recession. It’s a similar feeling: I’m being told it’s lovely out there but it feels dreadful. No matter what the economic analysis says, when I look around I see incomes reducing, prices rising, services closing and life generally becoming more difficult.
I've mentioned previously that there's a danger that this blog becomes a series of rants about things I'm angry about. Well not today, at least!
Our State of the Voluntary Sector report shows there are over 3000 voluntary and community groups in Manchester. I don't know them all but I do know a lot of them and one of the great pleasures of my job is that I get to see some of the amazing things happening in groups across Manchester and meet some fantastic people.
Judging by the phone calls, emails and tweets I and my colleagues have had, the report in Third Sector of comments by Geoff Little (Deputy CEO of Manchester City Council) addressing the Charity Finance Group conference earlier this week has sent a shockwave around the voluntary and community sector not just in Manchester but the rest of the country too.
This morning I was in the happy position of being able to present our new research into the state of the voluntary sector in Manchester. It has been a long-held ambition of mine to be able to show the full extent of the enormous contribution which voluntary organisations, community groups, social enterprises and the community work of faith groups make to the city.
Yesterday morning I went to the briefing where the City Council announced their budget plans for the next 2 years. The key message is bleak: beyond the £170m cut from the Council’s annual budget in 2011, they now have to cut a further £80m per year. Manchester, it was said, has been hit hardest out of all the boroughs in Greater Manchester and out of all the major cities outside London.
One of the dangers for me in writing a blog is that I'll end up writing only about things I'm angry about (there seems to be quite a lot at the moment) and it will become a terribly depressing read. However, I'm not going to apologise for the bleak picture I'm about to paint because it's what's really happening to people in our communities.
For nearly a year now, I've been a member of the 'shadow' Manchester Health and Wellbeing Board, representing the voluntary and community sector. This is a new body which was formed under the new NHS and Social Care Act which introduces the Coalition Government's changes to the way health and social care services are structured across England. There must be one Board in each Local Authority area. The Department of Health defines the role of the Health and Wellbeing Board as follows: