Over the past few days CAF has been at Conservative Party conference in Manchester, where we’ve had a busy time talking about our work, and also the value that charities bring to society more generally. Arriving on Saturday evening, we learnt that Civil Society Minister Brooks Newmark MP was stepping down, to be replaced by Rob Wilson MP, so one of our first tasks was to work with our colleagues at ACEVO to encourage Mr Wilson to attend at our fringe on the Tuesday evening.
He kindly agreed to do so, and joined us for an interesting discussion about the future of the charity sector, taking place at an event to formally launch The Blue Book of the Voluntary Sector, which features a number of Conservative MPs offering their thoughts on the future of the charity sector. Other speakers were Penny Mordaunt MP, John Glen MP, Dominic Raab MP and Chris White MP. A packed room listened to excellent speeches and then engaged in an interesting question and answer session – you can read more about our fringe event here.
In addition to giving out copies of The Blue Book on our stand, we were also promoting our ‘Charity Street’ report – published in partnership with IPPR – which looks at the benefits that charities bring to society, but also seeks to place a value on the way that so many families benefit from the services that charities provide.
We were also holding the second part of our charity street party on the stand to celebrate, and were joined by a number of political big hitters. A trio of cabinet ministers – William Hague, Eric Pickles and Iain Duncan Smith – stopped by out stand, where they were able to have their picture taken with their street party equivalent. We also had visits from the likes of Brandon Lewis MP, Shailesh Vara MP and Karen Bradley MP, all of whom took away a copy of our report.
Attendees were again challenged to see how many charity tins they could find on our game and this time the winner was David Amess MP, who represents Southend West. Mr Amess will soon be receiving a charity cheque to give to a charity of his choice.
We’re all back at work today, following up on Conservative conference before heading off to Glasgow tomorrow for the start of Liberal Democrat conference on Saturday. On Tuesday evening we’ll be launching The Yellow Book of the Voluntary Sector and hearing directly from a number of contributors to the collection – keep an eye out for more details in the next couple of days!