As ever our friends at the NCIA pursue diligently the goings-on in the voluntary sector and bring us uplifting tidings of great joy. Cue chorus of ‘Hallelujah’ – great music transcends ideology, religion and language [the sub-titles are in Spanish] !?
October 15th marked a decisive moment for anti-privatisation campaigners when the Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust announced that the county’s 8 community hospitals and health services (including 3000 nurses and other health workers would remain in the NHS. This reversed an earlier decision to outsource services by creating a ‘social enterprise’, in what would have been the largest such transfer in the country. Instead the board of NHS Gloucestershire voted to create a new standalone NHS Trust, and to reject the option of opening health services up to private sector bids.
The decision follows a hard-fought 18 month campaign by anti-cuts campaigners across the county, including a High Court challenge against the PCT’s outsourcing plans. Caroline Molloy of Stroud Against the Cuts said “This is a triumph for people power, and the outcome we’ve worked for from the start. We would like to pay tribute to the tens of thousands of people across Gloucestershire who have contributed to this victory for our NHS.” You can read more here – www.stroudagainstthecuts.co.uk – and you can pass on your congratulations here – firstname.lastname@example.org
In a broader context here’s Bob Baker’s view, Director of the Simon Community, who writes in a personal capacity…..
“The so called voluntary sector is in a pretty parlous state particularly when it comes to any notion of resistance. I think that changes over the past 30 years have had really corrosive effects. One aspect of this is the move from grants to commissioning and the contract culture, which has led, almost inevitably, to privatisation. Having got used to being commissioned to act as agencies of the state with the responsibility but not the power, they are now all competing against each other and clearly the big businesses are going to get all the contracts. Many voluntary sector organisations have lost touch with their roots and most people you meet in the voluntary sector have no idea about the political dimension of the work they were set up to do. Many of them think they are not allowed to take a political stance on anything. The Simon Community sees political action as central to our role. We have as a founding principle that we will not accept funding from the government. This is partially to maintain our independence for campaigning purposes but also to prevent us from being corrupted or influenced by government agendas and imposed outcomes.”
Anyone listening in the youth work voluntary sector?