Alzheimer's Society chief Jeremy Hughes says charities should copy each other's ideas more

Speaking at a Centre for Social Justice fringe event at the Conservative Party conference, Hughes says third sector organisations need to foster relationships to share good practice

Jeremy Hughes
Jeremy Hughes

Third sector organisations are too reticent to copy each other's good ideas and successful initiatives, according to Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society.

Hughes was speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, called Confronting Dementia: Who Cares and Who Pays?, organised by the think tank the Centre for Social Justice.

Hughes said that although some charities were among the voices making calls for increased public spending in various areas of public services, it was more important to work out how to use the resources already available. "I can see so many examples of where we're not spending the money well," he said.

But in terms of getting the most out of the money they already had, third sector organisations would have a greater effect if they more readily looked at other organisations' examples of good practice, he said: "We seem to have a culture of not copying and replicating."

He gave the example of an innovation he came across in Bristol when he worked for the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer. He said he was frustrated that when he suggested this idea might be useful just 12 miles down the road in Bath, he was told it would "never work here".

Charities and other groups needed to foster internal and external relationships that could lead to good ideas being shared, he said. "In the voluntary sector, we need to bring people together at a local level and build relationships at national level," said Hughes.

The need to bring together good practice from across different sectors was underlined by the broadcaster and campaigner Esther Rantzen, who was chairing the event.

Rantzen, who founded the older people's helpline the Silver Line in 2013, said: "What I'm hearing in this discussion is very good ideas that are all in different places, and it seems to me that what you need is all these spokes of the wheel coming through to a central place."

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