Third Sector At Large: The blag society: one way of getting banks to stump up

The Big Society Bank, Dame Elisabeth Hoodless and the Charity Commission are on our minds this week

- George Osborne might be softer on the banks than some would like, but the same can't be said about the ex-offenders who work as mentors at the St Giles Trust. The charity's chief executive, Rob Owen, told a social investment conference last week that one of the mentors was with him at a recent meeting with the money men and gave it to them straight: "Give us a million quid and I'll tell the boys to stop robbing Barclays."

- When Hammersmith & Fulham Council in west London confirmed its intention last week to evict the Afghan Council UK, the refugee organisation, from Palingswick House along with 20 other charities, it thoughtfully provided the names and websites of other outfits that might help local residents who have fled Afghanistan. The list includes the Southern Afghan Club, which is for fans of Afghan hounds, and afghana.com, which invites visitors to "meet Afghan girls now!" You might call it disrespect, taking the mickey, or something more colourful. The council calls it "an innocent mistake". M'learned friend might be consulted about whether this is grounds for a challenge to the decision.

- Seven years ago Third Sector, in its wisdom, dubbed Dame Elisabeth Hoodless of CSV "the mother of all volunteers". When The Times was quoting her criticism of the big society last week, they managed to call her "the mother of the big society", which didn't exactly go down well - she's spent much of her life as a card-carrying member of the Labour Party and doesn't want to become a mascot for David Cameron's big idea.

- The political imperative to bring forward measures to counter Hoodless-style onslaughts meant there was a rushed quality to two key announcements last week. On the £200m the banks are putting in to the Big Society Bank, the Treasury and the banks were referring inquiries to each other or giving conflicting accounts; and on limits to CRB checks - part of the big society pledge to reduce bureaucracy - the Home Office was clearly playing catch-up with information released first to political correspondents. All indications of a certain desperation to stop the rot.

- Three months after the student invasion, the Charity Commission is still boarded up like a bomb site. The feeling is that repairs are pointless because it's bound to happen again - the poor mites made themselves tea and nicked the biscuits last time, and the hungrier they get, the sooner they'll be back.

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