My week: Geraldine Peacock escapes to Tuscany

Sunday: I prepare a speech for a conference in Manchester, hosted by the hospice movement, on user choice.

Geraldine Peacock
Geraldine Peacock

The message applies to all aspects of social welfare. I am reminded that large and small charities can work well together by the example of a big children's hospice and a small palliative care scheme providing a continuum of care for the parents of dying children. I encourage the two organisations to think about writing their collaboration up as a case study for MBA courses, and to think about different ways to communicate it in the voluntary sector - an article on the Charity Commission website, maybe?

Monday: I travel back from Manchester, appalled at the inability of rail services to leave on time and have any food or working air-conditioning. I think of how effective some community consortia have been at running transport schemes.

I meet my sister to see Cabaret, which emphasises to me that "money does make the world go round".

Tuesday: A meeting of the Commission on Unclaimed Assets to review the Treasury consultation document. I would have liked to see more direct statements about a social investment bank, but feel that there is plenty to take forward.

I agree to start work at once by talking with other infrastructure bodies and the private sector.

Wednesday: A board meeting of the consultancy Carbon to discuss its Board-Able project to promote good governance by placing more people with disabilities on voluntary and private sector boards. Then I rush home to throw things in a suitcase ready to go to a Tuscan holiday via Paris.

Thursday: I meet my partner in Paris - good Eurostar, rotten meal - and fly to Pisa. Book into airport hotel.

Friday: I pick up hire car (great - roof goes back!) in 85 degrees and drive along a dust track to an old farmhouse covered in jasmine and honeysuckle. I begin to relax. Yes, I did come to Tuscany before Tony Blair began to do so and will keep on coming; it is a wonderful place to recover and reflect. I recall signing the 'concordat' on the Charities Act, with Fiona Mactaggart sitting on a Tuscan hillside and me on a Manchester train (again) trying to get a signal to hammer out a final version.

Saturday: As an electric storm breaks over Chianti, I reflect on Gordon Brown taking over as Prime Minister and the many goodbyes to Tony B. What a 10 years. I wonder whether the flashes of lightning are portents. Whatever the future holds for the voluntary sector, I know it will never go backwards, given the achievements made possible by the Government and embraced by all those competing for the top job in the future.

- Geraldine Peacock serves on several trustee boards and is an adviser to the Commission on Unclaimed Assets.

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