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
I do find it both incredible and alarming how often senior public sector managers, executives (and indeed managers and executives in the business and charity sectors too) and politicians fail to recognise the critical importance of their staff towards the fulfilment of their ambitions and delivering desired outcomes.
The floods have exposed the gossamer thin argument for austerity and the cold, cruel ideology that underlies it. The inescapable truth is that we all rely on properly funded and resourced public services - maybe not directly every minute of every day but, nonetheless, all the time, because the alternative means abandoning people when they most need our help.
The Head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, said on 22nd January that parents and families should take more responsibility for their own lives. It's a view I share. 4Children's own Family Commission told us that families, even very vulnerable families, want to be seen as part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Last week I was invited to give evidence to the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) for its enquiry on citizens and public services. This is an important enquiry and has the opportunity to address some fundamental questions about the nature of our public services, and the Government's 'reform' and public expenditure programmes.
We need a party that will stand by trade unions, not cut them adrift as they face yet another damaging setback for workers' rights at Grangemouth. We need a socialist party, a party that will fight as vigorously to defend the rights of the oppressed as the Tories do to defend the pockets of the privileged. Labour used to be these things, but no more.
Handing over the keys to some of our most precious public services isn't something that should be done lightly, particularly when public trust is at stake. As a head of a country wide charity that deals with more than a million people each year, I'm acutely aware of the fragility of trust when delivering public services.
The reality is that Brazil is not just developing for itself. If this was the case it would be focusing on provision of public services considerably more. But in an era of globalisation it is staging development for the world and so priorities have changed. Therefore it is easy to criticise the Brazilian government for skewing its development focus, but it has too many actors to please.
The UK is not a favoured destination for Romanians and Bulgarians, with Spain, Italy and Germany more attractive to prospective migrants. However, there is still considerable uncertainty, since migration is highly dependent on economic, political and social factors in sending and potential host countries.