An update from our CEO, Peter Holbrook

The social enterprise community with whom we work tend to be a positive and optimistic bunch. Often more optimistic than the circumstances would suggest are sensible, but that’s us isn’t it? We tend to believe that business can be done more fairly and equitably, we believe that just about any challenge can be resolved; that ultimately, we’ll win.

These are difficult times for us socially-enterprising optimists. The situation we are facing with our climate remains bleak and despite the lighter evenings, it feels as if winter is coming #GOT.

The health service continues to creak under the strain of growing demand and diminishing real resource and yet the only hopeful slice of the NHS pie, community services being delivered by community hands, are now proposed (in the 107th restructure of the NHS in 15 years) to be subsumed back into the outdated architecture of the NHS and debt ridden NHS trusts. The whole principle driven by the last Labour government, the coalition government and subsequent regimes was about creating responsive, innovative services and empowering staff to take a lead role in their design and delivery. And despite a few raised eyebrows and a healthy dose of cynicism from some unions, community health services in community hands actually worked. On the whole staff and patients were better off and this one little bit of the NHS drove efficiency, improvement and fiscal sustainability with aplomb. Pretty unique within the NHS ecosystem. Now, this tired government, with its bandwidth overwhelmed by Brexit, has its eye off of the ball and is languishing in a dry and dusty policy desert. Where are the new ideas, where is the political philosophy?  Hope and a positive vision for the future of our country remain just mirages on the horizon.

The challenges of climate change and the impending mass extinction of species; the grotesque inequity within our national and global economy; the social growing social division and distrust; the abuse and misuse of our data by mega corps; spiralling knife crime across our cities; low pay; economic stagnation; tax avoidance; obesity -these are far from the happiest of times and yet I remain resolutely optimistic amid bouts of disbelief and frustration

The breadth of action, imagination, determination across our sector has never been more expansive or alive. We are attracting the best talent, leadership and ideas and achieving ever greater collective impact than any time before. Let’s continue to celebrate our workforce and beat the drum for careers in a sector that’s making a difference. And whether you’re facing uncertainty within a public service mutual, or are struggling with Brexit-based currency fluctuations or a shortage in product packaging, then hear this: The worse things get in the outside world, the greater the number of people who come knocking at our door. The grimmer the reality, the greater the need for a practical alternative.

However difficult it is right now, I believe that we are winning. We are an important part of the solution the world is looking for – be that in the delivery of services to the public or in the everyday provision of goods and services. We just need to continue building our momentum and impatiently wait until the sun begins to shine again and for that moment when we’re re-discovered all over again as the bit of the economy that is resolving these challenges rather than exacerbating them. Until then, keep up the good work and remember, focus on the things that you can change, rather than those that you can’t.




Dates for your diary:

The Health and Social Care Conference, taking place 16 May – ‘A better way forward’

Awards applications which open next Monday 13th May