Groups air views on party circuit

KIRSTEN DOWNER

Charities are taking to the party conference circuit in order to give their views on the recent Strategy Unit review and to intensify their input into public services.

Barnardo's has teamed up with homelessness charity Shelter for the first time in order to raise the profile of child homelessness through a series of fringe meetings at both Liberal Democrat and Labour party conferences.

Shelter's director of external affairs Ben Jackson will join Liz Garrett, Barnardo's co-ordinator for policy and practice to debate "No Room to Play: The missing solutions to child poverty

this week at the Labour conference in Blackpool. "Barnardo's joins up with other charities when it makes sense,

said Garrett. "Child homelessness doesn't often get to the top of the agenda - Shelter has to cover it for adults as well as children. Barnardo's believes that serious lifelong health, emotional and educational problems can ensue from children being homeless."

Leonard Cheshire is kicking off an access to primary care campaign at the conferences, aiming to get government to work with disabled groups in order to improve awareness of their needs among primary care service providers.

The directors of two large service delivery charities, Help the Aged and Crisis, will tonight (2 October) discuss the impact of the Strategy Unit review on their work, and its implications for sector independence and the push towards merger.

They are speaking at NCVO's fringe meeting "Labour's second term - a new dawn for charities

where the umbrella body will formally launch its campaign for a Charity Bill to be included in the 2003 Queen's speech.

NCVO wants to ensure that key elements emerging from the Strategy Unit review, a universal public benefit test and the reform of the Charity Commission, will be followed through by legislation.

The British Heart Foundation is launching an initiative at the Labour conference to encourage four to six year olds to exercise, and Groundwork UK is collaborating with think-tanks to hold fringe meetings at the party conferences.

It is holding meetings with the IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research) at the Labour Conference, the Centre for Policy Studies at the Conservative conference and has already held a meeting with the Social Market Foundation at the Liberal conference.

"We're known as a 'doing' organisation, but we want to start influencing policy,

said Graham Duxbury, communications manager for Groundwork UK.

The charity is also collaborating with Barclays bank to promote the benefits of community involvement to the private sector.

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