Third Sector at Large: We relish our new freedom to er, make no comment

BTCV, the Blume family and Lord Wei are on our minds this week

- Volunteering charity BTCV put a brave face on losing its strategic partners funding from the government."It means we can have more freedom as an organisation to speak up," it chirped. OK then - what does it think the funding decisions mean about the government's attitude to the sector? "Er, we don't want to comment on that." Oh dear. Back to square one.

- Blume mother and son make a fearsome combo. Last week, Dame Hilary, founder of the Good Gifts catalogue, tweeted imperiously about Voice11: "Real entrepreneurs don't spend time at conferences. It's like the difference between sex therapists and those who have sex." The next day, son Toby delivered his speech at the Our Society conference with his (quite noisy) one-year-old on his arm, tweeting simultaneously with his spare hand (Toby, that is). Multi-tasking by any measure.

- Dame Hilary's strictures were in fact thrown into doubt by the Voice 11 delegates from the firm ecovation, who clearly like to put the 'enterprise' into 'social enterprise'. As soon as business secretary Vince Cable asked for post-speech questions, they demanded to know if he was going to buy one of their bird feeders, which emit ultraviolet rays to attract more sparrows and that. He was still shuffling and hesitating when they stormed the stage to have their picture taken with him as he forked out for one of the feeders.

- Lord Wei, the government's big society adviser, was quoted by Acevo last week on the task ahead: "To bridge divides in danger of becoming chasms, to build high-communitability in the information age and to foster a sense in every single one of us of what it is to be a bigger society. Now is the time for depth, light, and clarity." The embargo was last Friday, but would the words have been different on a different date?

- Last year, the Directory of Social Change pointed out how revised charity discounts on Virgin Trains were less generous than what had gone before. Now Nick Aldridge, chief executive of Missionfish, has blogged, complete with screen grab showing the figures, about a return charity fare that's 21 per cent more expensive than the standard one. "It looks like this scheme isn't worth the time and effort charities - or indeed Virgin - have to put into it," he says, with admirable restraint.

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