Little at Large: Sheffield audit is a real storm in a teacup

The pay may not be fantastic, but at least the voluntary sector is a relaxed placed to work. It's not Goldman Sachs - you can usually knock off a bit early on Fridays.

Except, it appears, in south Yorkshire, where the C. Montgomery Burns of the sector resides. The Sheffield Positive Action Training Consortium, which provides IT training to people from ethnic minorities, was recently subject to an audit by VC Train, a voluntary sector auditor based down the road in Rotherham. It was stung by various criticisms - including the grave reproach that students were allowed to have tea breaks. Shame on them.

Rebranding exercises are fraught with perils, such as discovering your new acronym spells something rude. And there's the perennial problem of someone else getting there first. This misfortune befell the Family Welfare Association, which has transformed itself into Family Action and come up with a fetching new colour scheme of lime green and grey. The charity was all set to repaint the outside of its head office in the new pastel shades when it discovered that exactly the same colours were emblazoned on the scooter showroom two doors down. So it had to settle for a white frontage instead.

The rules about political campaigning are generally acknowledged to be a minefield, but there can be no blaming grey areas in the case of Catz Club, which was ordered by the Charity Commission last week to take back a £7,500 donation it had made to the Labour Party. This is very definitely against the rules. Strange, then, that a mere 12 months ago, the same charity was highly commended in the Charity Times awards, which recognise "individuals and teams who set the professional standards by which peers can benchmark themselves". Oops.

 -  Mathew Little is a freelance writer


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