At Large: When the sector follows the bagel, is it because of big funding cuts?

Plus: footwear and criminal justice charities; 'a story of shifting terrain and moving frontiers' from the NCVO; and Back to the Future

Hugh Biddell with bagel
Hugh Biddell with bagel

Hugh Biddell, head of charities and not-for-profit at the Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest, has serious form for quoting poetry in public, and did not disappoint in his sponsor's address to the recent Acevo conference. He read out The Bagel, by David Ignatow - a short meditation about dropping the said eatable and running after it. Biddell concluded: "Let's stop being annoyed with ourselves about one bagel rolling down the street." A parable about the sector recovering from its recent woes, perhaps? One thinks of Eric Cantona and seagulls following the trawler in the hope of sardines.

What is it about footwear and criminal justice charities? The Bromley Trust, set up by the late Toby Bromley of Russell & Bromley fame, has prison reform as its second objective and finances the Bromley Briefings, a bible of prison statistics that has just been updated. And James Timpson, chief executive of the eponymous shoe repair firm, has long championed the rehabilitation of offenders and is currently chair of the Prison Reform Trust. Ten per cent of Timpson staff are ex-offenders, and the firm has a workshop in Liverpool prison, training inmates in the services provided in its shops - except, of course, key-cutting.

One of the publishing events of 2019 will be a history of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, timed to coincide with its centenary. Justin Davis Smith, formerly of Volunteering England and the NCVO and now a lecturer at Cass Business School, leads a team working on files at the London Metropolitan Archives and elsewhere. He says it's to be an "accessible and readable" chronological narrative of moderate length, and key themes will include the relationship with the state, professionalisation, fundraising and volunteering. "Issues emerge and recur, and it's interesting to see whether we've learnt and moved forward," he says. "It's a story of shifting terrain and moving frontiers."

Bike to the Future has just been registered as a charity to teach bicycle repair skills in north Wales (see Exits and Entrances, page 12). Its trustees were initially listed on the Charity Commission's register as Dave, Peter, Bec, Jeremy and Lel - not a surname between them. Perhaps they're also a band, like Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich back in the 1960s (anyone remember The Legend of Xanadu? It got to number one). Miraculously, the full names were added to the register after Third Sector contacted the commission.

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