Well, it’s officially the most miserable day of the year, at least according to a segment of this morning’s Today Programme, and I admit that I was feeling quite that way when I was soaked through and trying to fight my way on to the London Overground. However, we’re too resilient to let this mar our days, so on with the news…
Director of the Development Trusts Association, Steve Wyler will lead the new organisation, Locality, formed after a merge with Bassac. Joanna Holmes, chief executive of Barton Hill Settlement, will take the role of chair. The two bodies, which already work from the same building, announced a merger after extraordinary general meetings in November last year and you can read more here. I have had extremely good experience in dealing with both the Development Trust Association and Bassac in the past and therefore have high expectation of the new body.
For those north of the boarder, a new umbrella body for community sector organisations has been formed in Scotland. Scottish Community Sector Alliance, has grown out of an informal alliance called Local People Leading, which was established to campaign on behalf of community sector bodies. The new network will be headed by Angus Hardie, director of LPL.
Labour claims that the government bill designed to devolve power to local communities actually hands ministers significant new powers. Caroline Flint says “The Tory-led government’s claim to support localism is a sham. Despite their promise to devolve power to communities and local authorities, they’re actually taking power away from local people and giving more to Whitehall ministers,”. Meanwhile, party leader Ed Miliband is claiming the notion of ‘Big Society’ for Labour. Ed, who was Minister for the Third Sector when I first worked with the Office of the Third Sector (as it was under Labour) tore into Labour’s style of government under Tony Blair andGordon Brown as he promised to rebuild a grassroots movement that would go beyond “the bureaucratic state” and look to local people for answers. Amidst a number of swipes at his predecessors, Miliband told a Fabian Society conference that Labour had to reclaim the “big society” as it was an idea in tune with its values, not the Conservatives’. “Only Labour can build the good society. Society can only function if based on progressive Labour values,”.
The number of people working in the voluntary sector fell by 2 per cent in the third quarter of 2010, according to the latest figures. This is contrasted by a 2% rise in public sector employment over the same period. I will certainly be keeping an eye out to see whether this is a blip or a longer-term reversal of the growth in employment that the sector has seen.
I was interested in the following course which was sent to me by colleagues at South London and Maudsley NHS Trust.
A new 5-day intensive course in Public Mental Health is available at Warwick Medical School.
Public Mental Health and Wellbeing: Measurement, Determinants and Promotion will run from 28 February - 4 March 2011
'Today's public health practitioners need to understand the interplay between mental and physical health, and the impact on healthy lifestyles to ensure the success of a range of public health programmes - including those that aim to prevent heart disease, cancer, and other long-term conditions.'
The course is open to those who are engaged in promoting public health and will provide a theoretical and practical grounding in current issues in public mental health. Download a copy
This new course is the first of its kind in the UK and draws on unique research currently being undertaken at the University of Warwick. The development of this module has been sponsored by the Learning for Public Health West Midlands and is supported by the National Mental Health Development Unit Wellbeing Programme
Finally, anyone who lives in my part of town will have been aware of the anniversary we just passed of the New Cross Fire, which killed 13 young black people at a birthday party 30 years ago. This blog is not really a forum for local issues, but this article by Darcus Howe is a poignant reminder to us all of why we need to keep these events, and the way that our society deals with them, at the front of our minds.