Our final fringe of the 2014 conference season took place in Glasgow, where a number of Liberal Democrat politicians and activists joined us for the launch of The Yellow Book of the Voluntary Sector. Published in partnership with ACEVO, this follows the release of the Red and Blue books in the past fortnight, and you can download your copy of The Yellow Book here.
ACEVO chief executive Sir Stephen Bubb started the event by thanking the contributors for their essays, and explained that early on in his role as Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg was eager to stress the value of charities both in providing services and as advocates, themes that he touched upon in his foreword to The Yellow Book. Stephen went on to pose a question raised by contributor Martin Horwood MP who queried why the link between the charity sector and Liberal Democrats is not stronger, and this project is an important step on strengthening that relationship.
Chairing the event, CAF’s Chief Executive John Low introduced Ibrahim Taguri, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Brent Central, whose contribution focuses on child poverty. Ibrahim explained that child poverty is an issue that impinges directly on a number of other policy areas such as housing and education, and stressed the role of a bold sector in helping politicians achieve their goal of ending child poverty by 2020.
Next to speak was Jemima Bland, the Lib Dem candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham. Jemima praised the work that charities do to try and solve society problems, and argued that political engagement and participation in civil society can be closely aligned. She explained that charities achieve more when they work in partnership with politicians, and called for greater coordinated action to tackle some of the problems that charities face.
Baroness Jolly then outlined the content of her essay, which focuses on the importance of leadership on the voluntary sector developing on her personal experience working for a charity for many years. Baroness Jolly explained that she sought the opinions of a number of people who have headed up charities. She also sought information from job averts, and found that there is a great deal of crossover between private and voluntary chief executive job descriptions. Baroness Jolly finished by praising the ‘priceless worth’ of the sector – which we investigate in more detail in our ‘Charity Street’ report.
Ben Nicholls then outlined his essay, which looked at how young people can be engaged with civil society, drawing upon his time working in education. He also spoke about his experience setting up Ricnic, which is a small charity that tries to get young people involved in youth theatre. Ben called for Lib Dems in government to implement four principles: empowering young people; get more young people involved in civil society; introduce voted at 16; and reform the way that the National Citizen Service is administered.
John Low then spoke about Baroness Tyler’s contribution, who sadly was unable to join us due to family circumstances. Baroness Tyler co-chaired CAF’s Growing Giving Parliamentary Inquiry, which is looking at how to engage people with charitable giving. He also praised Baroness Barker for her continued support for the sector in the House of Lords.
The final contributor was Kelly-Marie Blundell, PPC for Guildford. Kelly-Marie spoke about the need to investigate local solutions to welfare problems. Kelly-Marie argued that the current contracting method favours large companies, to the determinant of small charities who are unable to compete fairly with prime-contractors such as Serco and A4E to the detriment of those on the receiving end of the service. Kelly-Marie called for action to ensure that charities are able to compete on a level playing field.
A lively question and answer session then ensued, featuring discussions on a range of topics including the Lobbying Act, usage of charitable status, ways that local government can support charities and the diversity of trustees.
We’ve now completed our fringe programme for conference 2014, and have seen three excellent debates featuring a number of insightful contributions, as well as discussions about a number of vital topics. You can catch up on our events at Labour and Conservative conference on our Giving Thought blog, and our summary of CAF’s time at Lib Dem Conference 2014 will be following shortly!