Leaving Stansted for my recent trip to Italy, I popped into Weatherspoons at the airport and had pasta and pesto. It was pretty bland. I even had to add salt. And cost over £10. It didn't look bad however.
On the way back I popped into the restaurant at Trieste airport and had some trout and veg (€8). So much nicer.
Arrived late but made very welcome by a wonderful host. The hotel is in a great location, close to the bus and train station. It's a basic hotel but very clean. I loved the view of the back street from the window. I'd definately stay again.
Open Age, the Charity I Chair, recently (7th June) organised a meeting to celebrate featuring as a case study in the recent New Philanthropy Capital report on the voluntary sector. The report led to Open Age being invited to speak on the Today programme.
The Mayor of Kensington and Chelsea hosted Open Age in his parlour.
I was given the opportunity to speak at the launch and made a few points
We have an ageing Society and are seeing significant growth in the number of oldest-old
The Jubilee celebrations highlighted but one example of active ageing. But we know that not everyone is so fortunate and man suffer from significant heath and care challenges in old age.
On the one hand the boroughs where Open Age Work are relatively wealthy. But there are huge wealth and health disparities. Open Age works with some of the most isolated people within the borough(s).
There is a lot of evidence about "use it or lose it". We need to keep our mind and body active. Open Age is focussed on promoting and supporting active ageing.
Linking to the findings of the NPC report, I highlighted challenges ahead for Open Age.
Challenges Relationship with the Statutory Sector: We benefit from a great relationship and are much more fortunate than many others in the voluntary sector in terms of funding. It is vital that the productive relationship we have with the statutory sector continue. Funding Crises. The Economic crises, cuts in Central Government funding, Trusts with less money and a very competitive fundraising make for a challenging environment. There is less money to support our preventative work. Recent research in a London borough suggested that not impossible that in 20 years almost all of local authority funding would need to go on social care. This highlights the importance of investing in preventative health. Risk The NPC report found that 90% of the voluntary sector are facing a riskier future. It is notable that for the last two years our trustees meetings have been dominated by issues around risk and fundraising. It is very difficult to fund core costs (Open Age have very small core team - finance, director). And it is also difficult to get the full costs recovered. Volunteers Another key finding of NPC report was that charities were using more volunteers. Open Age always been a volunteer led organisation. We rely on volunteers to manage our reception and volunteers on the trustee board. We will always use volunteers. But it is important to note that there is a cost to volunteering. Volunteering isn't free. If we didn't support volunteers and treat them well, they would walk out on us. Cuts The NPC report highlighted how the sector is having to make cuts/redundancies. Let me be frank. There is no guarantee that Open Age wont have to cut services this year. The organisation does not have huge reserves. NPC highlighted that 6 in 10 charities will need to dip into reserves. We may do but they wont keep us going for long. Open Age is well managed and delivering a huge amount. But it is vital that we work with statutory funders and others to try and ensure that services are not cut.
Open Age is however in a good place to meet the challenges.
It has a fantastic staff team and great support from funders (including statutory sector)
It attracts a lot of respect from opinion formers and decision makers.
It runs some great projects
It benefits from significant user involvement
It is willing (indeed keen) to partner with others.
I finished by setting out three things we need to do to meet the challenges
FIND A BETTER WAY OF INVESTING IN PREVENTATIVE SERVICES: Investing in preventative services will save money in the long run. If we lose services like Open Age there is a risk that 5-10 years down the track you will see the cost in terms of additional social care costs. Lets find a way of working together to deliver new models, building on localism and big society. We want to work with local authorities and other commissioners.
LETS FIND WAYS OF SUPPORTING STAFF AND KEY VOLUNTEERS: We expect to work hard. And believe me, the staff and volunteers do. But the last three years have seen extraordinary pressure on the team. Our Board is forced to talk about funding at every meeting. But the bit we most enjoy is where a member of staff comes and talks through the services they provide and some of the case studies.
HELP US HELP YOU: We welcome feedback. We want to deliver for older people across London. Started off by saying we have great relationship with funders. Let's find ways of not just maintaining this but by developing it further.
I've stayed at this hotel many times now. On the positive side Its in a good location for the European institutions. It's close to a nice park which is great for a run. It has good showers, It is clean The staff are friendly The rooms are big The TV has BBC Breakfast isn't bad. In fact it has a pretty big selection. It can be relatively cheap On the other hand: The stairs could do with some paint and a new carpet There isn't really a manned bar in the evening There is no tea/coffee machine (not unusual for Brussels). It's a tube journey to the tourist bits of town (or probably a 30 min walk)
I thought I would start sharing some 2012 running stats.
Firstly, this is how many times I've been out according to my Garmin this year.
And this is how far I've been each month.
This is how many minutes I've run per month
And this is the average time of each run