Third Sector at Large: Sector contracts are the perfect gift for insomniacs

Red tape, the UK Border Agency, Radio 4's The Moral Maze and bonkers world records were on our mind this week

- While the doughty Lord Hodgson takes forward the struggle against red tape on behalf of the government - bang! - there lands on the table the government's contract for the community organisers programme. Weighing in at a lean 75 pages, its 'terms and conditions' booklet contains such vital reminders as "words importing the singular meaning include where the context so admits the plural meaning and vice versa" and "words importing the masculine include the feminine and the neuter." Elf 'n' safety gets a good look-in, as does the need to phase out the use of ozone-depleting substances and minimise the release of green ... zzzz. Oh, is that the time? Must have dropped off.

- The UK Border Agency boasts a proud reputation as one of the less people-friendly branches of government, and here's an example of why: Vaughan Jones, chief executive of Praxis - a charity that supports migrants - told a National Council for Voluntary Organisations' event last week how funding it received from the agency was only supposed to help certain migrant groups. So the agency asked the charity to make sure it checked the passports of visitors to a festival it organised and exclude anybody from non-approved groups. It also requested that Praxis add a pop-up to its website requiring visitors to declare they were from the right group before they could log on. Not surprisingly, the charity withdrew from the contract.

- When charities were under the spotlight on Radio 4's The Moral Maze last week, one of the panellists, Claire Fox, declared: "I have become utterly irritated over recent years with being hectored and lectured by self-righteous charities who assume that, because they are a charity, we can't ask them any questions." Fox is director of the think tank the Institute of Ideas, the aims of which include "to think, to act, to say what needs saying - even if it offends others".

- Third Sector hears of a lot of bonkers world record attempts for charity. Last year, there was the largest number of people dressed as Superman in one place (180, if you were wondering), and now there's the most people singing the children's song Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes simultaneously in multiple venues. The children's communication charity I Can apparently had 100,000 kids lined up to do this on 1 March, hoping for donations and a place in the record books. More examples of daft record exploits gratefully received.

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