Little at Large: Will Conway return to a nice little earner in the sector?

Derek Conway, the Tory MP who financed the lavish lifestyles of sons Henry and Freddie with a little help from the taxpayer, is to step down as an MP at the next election. Will he follow the path he trod last time he left the Commons and grace the voluntary sector with his presence?

Cats Protection: Watch out, there's a Conway about (photo: Cats Protection)
Cats Protection: Watch out, there's a Conway about (photo: Cats Protection)

When he lost his seat in 1997, Conway spent his exile as chief executive of Cats Protection with a reported salary of £75,000 - one of the few charity chiefs who could afford to send both children to Harrow. Was the family cat on the payroll?

- Charities pride themselves on being blissfully free of public sector bureaucracy and red tape. But maybe they are not as free as they might think. Apparently, if you lose your keys at children's charity Barnardo's, you can't just ask around - you have to fill in a 'lost keys' form. Another charity requires sick staff to fill in two forms when they get back to their desks and have a 'return to work interview'. It's enough to give you a relapse.

- A third and final extract from the Volsec Dictionary: it is very important to work at a local level, especially if you want to impress the Government. Sometimes, local communities will have lost the power of speech. Your job is to give them a voice.

Frequently, your organisation will form something known as a partnership, which must achieve synergy. Don't look up synergy in the dictionary because, for some reason, they have the wrong definition in there.

If you want a successful career in the voluntary sector, you should be passionate about everything you do. Even making the tea. Remember, your purpose is to deliver social change, to make a difference and, above all, change lives. Even if you're not sure what any of that means.

- Mathew Little is a freelance writer mathew.little@haymarket.com.

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