Third Sector at Large: Please, sir, can we have some more Dickens quotes ...?

Charles Dickens, Vision Housing and Graduate Fog are all on our minds this week

- What is it about Dickens and the sector? In a recent interview with us, Sir Bert Massie said he didn't need a job after the Compact Commission and could "sit in my conservatory and read Dickens". Last week, Nigel Kershaw of Big Issue Invest opened a speech with a lengthy off-by-heart quotation from A Tale of Two Cities: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ... ". His point was that the sector's having a revolutionary meltdown and can rethink its values. The usual crumpled fiver for more Dickensian sector overhearings ...

- Vision Housing, which accommodates ex-offenders, got the big society stamp of approval from David Cameron in February and now - you've guessed it - it's had government money withdrawn and is on its uppers. Kevin Brennan - Hurd's Labour predecessor but one - tweeted that " at the end of this government's term the big society will in fact be smaller". Whatever he was like as a minister, Brennan has been named one of the Top 10 Twitter personalities in Cardiff, along with rugby wizard Jonathan Davies.

- The website Graduate Fog is doing its best to spread the unpaid interns row into the sector and has fixed on an advert by the National Trust for, of all things, an intern to supervise all the other interns. It reproduces an amusing email exchange - Tanya de Grunwald's outraged invective ("reputation in the gutter ... cynically targeting young people") bouncing off bland corporatese ("just one way people can support the organisation while looking to develop their skills"). Her key argument is inequity - the exclusion of those who can't afford to do it.

- British red tape is bad enough, but the Euro-brand is worse. Simon Bass, finance wallah at Action for Children, told a Third Sector conference last week that he submitted a train ticket among expenses relating to a grant from the EU Social Fund. "We were told it was valid only if it was stamped by a ticket inspector," he said. Well, that's fine beyond the English Channel, where you can composter votre billet on one of those little machines, but just try finding an inspector on the 15.09 from Stansted to Liverpool Street on a Wednesday afternoon.

- The Third Sector Deregulation Task Force report was promised by Easter, but it ain't going to happen. It's bogged down in paperwork - not red tape, exactly, but the volume of responses.

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