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.
For civil society, the risks of EU withdrawal are huge. At a time when the country needs charities and volunteering to be at the top of its game, they could be compromised, overwhelmed by demand and starved of resources. Brexit is a huge risk to the stability of the sector, one that may take decades to recover from.
This is the year that Volunteers' Week has been extended from seven to twelve days, enabling more people to take part. The final day coincides with the Patron's lunch: a celebration of Her Majesty the Queen's lifetime of service to more than 600 charities and organisations, on the occasion of her 90th birthday.
We must not allow a situation to arise where the focus is merely on increasing government income, without ensuring adequate accountability mechanisms are in place to ensure the tax money raised is spent wisely. And as we know only too well from our experience in Ireland, a healthy civil society is absolutely vital in that regard.
It seems a waste of time to put energy into a rational argument to counter your irrational position. But perhaps now that at least we are all talking about your strange habit, things might change. n the meantime, what the rest of us can do is stop treating your club as exclusive, but instead as ridiculous.
Charity and philanthropy depend on citizens' concern and proactive activism for the good of humanity, at home and abroad, in areas such as poverty alleviation, social justice, equality, clean environment and healthy politics. Dedicated volunteering from under-performing communities can lift them up which also enhances better community relations.
The charity and wider voluntary and community sector faces many challenges, most of which originate externally. However, I do fear that an unfortunate proportion (hopefully not too large a proportion)of these challenges are self-generated, and of these, it seems to me that far too many stem from within these organisations' executive and trustee leadership teams.
Food bank use is rising almost as quickly as executive pay. If something isn't done to correct the worsening structural inequality in the economy, the government may find itself called upon to bail out the food banks and provide basic nutrition to people living in one of the richest nations in the world.
These are going to be critical months for the voluntary and community sector (VCS) and charities more generally - and this is especially the case for the national sector bodies. It will also be a critical period for all of us and there needs to be an open debate about the future of society which these bodies can lead.