If ever there was a time for bold, brave focussed leadership in the voluntary and community sector, at both national and local level, surely it is now? And this must particularly be case in respect of the local community and small charity sector, which are the backbone of strong communities and the catalyst for local social action.
I'm not for a moment saying we shouldn't think and plan and act at our absolute best. But there is little point in our existence unless we can achieve change for people we are here for. The biggest risk of all is failing the people who need us. Let's urge charities on, let's give them the room to breathe, and our support to take courage.
David Cameron will today be smarting from the faux pas of making an acutely embarrassing indiscretion under the glance of cameras. Just days before the 2016 anti-corruption summit, the UK Prime Minister will be hosting, he was caught on camera in discussion with the Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury, describing two of the countries sending delegates to London as "fantastically corrupt countries".
Charities have rightly been arguing against specific benefit cuts on behalf of their members and their beneficiaries; drawing evidence from disabled people, carers and also from their own professional staff; and making the case for excluding some of the most vulnerable and poorest members of society from further cuts to their limited income.
Of course I know that 'Charity Does A Good Job' and 'No Governance Concerns At Charity' are not juicy headlines, but what I take from all of this is that it seems that most people writing (and reading?) about charities don't actually know much about charities, about the reality of running a charity, working in a charity, or receiving services or support from a charity.
One of the most common questions that charitable organisations are asking future employees at interview is "what do you think are the biggest challenges facing the sector at the moment?". Yes, there are the answers that everyone gives, such as "we're just coming out of a recession. There is no money", but I like to think out of the box. Here are the answers I like to give.
My plea to council leaders and senior officers is simply this - remember that you and the local voluntary and community sector seek to serve the same communities and same people. Respecting, valuing and working with each other as 'real' trusted partners, you can make a big difference, especially in these hard times of austerity and cuts.