Being a charity trustee in the current political and economic environment does not always feel comfortable. There are many reasons for this. Large or small, local or national - charities are facing common problems of reduced income and, if they are charities concerned with social issues, often increased demand for their services
We rarely hear the Prime Minister or members of his government talk about the "Big Society" nowadays. The idea behind it was simple. It is in most cases always better to get government out of the way of individuals, and to encourage the voluntary sector and local people to take a lead in improving their communities...
Chris Grayling doesn't know what's going on. Some might argue that this is true generally, but I'm talking about the "book ban". He didn't mean for it to happen, he didn't intend to deprive prisoners, and he doesn't have a good answer to the criticism that's being levelled at him. And the fuss is part of a wider and even more concerning issue.
While we can be grateful that we live in a country where the state can mostly respond effectively to environmental disasters, and local communities are remarkably resourceful and resilient, I can't help wondering whether some real needs are being missed... are we are missing a trick as a country if we can't find a way to capitalise on the huge appetite for voluntary action?
We are suffering from a lack of leadership, something the Victorians had in spades. By failing to give significantly, the new rich are failing to set an example and inspire those who will follow them. Government makes noises about encouraging more philanthropy but most politicians follow focus groups rather offer leadership...
So let's stop living in a theoretical world where Big Society is what happens when a subsection of those with surplus try to help those in need but don't have enough to meet all the need, and let's start living in the real world where the body best placed to be Big Society and to make Big Society work is you.
David Cameron is missing a trick. While The Greenest Government Ever and The Big Society have been consigned to the dustbin of history, a quiet revolution has been occurring in the West of England to create the greenest city in the country. This has culminated in Bristol being named European Green Capital for 2015 .
Here are some stats from a survey we recently conducted amongst around 1,000 respondents, in conjunction with ResearchBods. Less than one in 10 British people consider the contribution of businesses to their communities as being 'very good' or 'excellent' - 37% feel it is poor, while 54% judge it to be average.
So George Osborne has lost his treasured AAA rating. We are now heading for record consecutive quarters of stop-start growth. Youth unemployment is at an all-time high. Neither the deficit nor the debt is coming down and there's no money to do anything about it. If we want to spend more we have to borrow more, and even Ed Balls can't be sure we'll end up better off if we do.
As the demand for volunteers grows, we must look at what can be realistically expected of our volunteers. People volunteer for a wide range of reasons; they might care passionately about a cause, it might be the sense of affirmation that they get, others might volunteer in order to gain new experiences or to meet new people.