New charities minister Rob Wilson pledges to ensure the sector thrives and is supported

Wilson, who took up the role on Saturday after the resignation of Brooks Newmark, appears at Conservative Party conference events, including Acevo's Social Investment Summit

Rob Wilson
Rob Wilson

Rob Wilson, the newly appointed Minister for Civil Society, has pledged to do his best to ensure the voluntary sector "continues to thrive" and that it is supported.

Wilson, who was appointed on Saturday after the resignation of Brooks Newmark, was at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, where he spoke briefly at the Social Investment Summit fringe event organised by the charity leaders group Acevo yesterday.

He was introduced at the event by Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, who said that Wilson had not even been expecting to come to the conference at all until he was appointed, and was yet to be briefed on his new role.

Bubb welcomed Wilson to the post, saying he looked forward to working with him, and said: "There are times when we will disagree, and loudly disagree, and that's in the nature of what we do."

Wilson said: "I was sitting at home on Saturday evening; I'd just come back from speaking at a West Indian women's event, and I was settling down with my son to watch Arsenal against Spurs, and my phone kept ringing. I thought, 'no, I'm not going to answer that', but it's good luck that I did answer or I would never have got this fantastic opportunity.

"I know this is a very important sector for the Prime Minister; he made me aware of that when we spoke on the phone on Saturday night."

He acknowledged Bubb's warning that working together could lead to disagreements, and said: "I will do my best to ensure this continues to be a thriving sector and I will do my very best to make sure it continues to be supported."

The new minister said he had filled in for "most of the appointments that Brooks had". He was not, however, at an event on the same day co-hosted by the charity the Trussell Trust on food poverty, where John Glen, the MP for Salisbury who is also part of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger and Food Poverty in Britain, was a last-minute replacement for Newmark. Wilson also did not replace Newmark at an event on Alzheimer's care by the Centre for Social Justice.

He did attend an evening reception to mark the 75th birthday of the charity Citizens Advice, where he cut the cake and gave another short speech.

Wilson again told attendees at the Citizens Advice event of the Prime Minister's view of the sector: he said that David Cameron understood the importance of the charity and that every MP was grateful for its work.

Approached by Third Sector afterwards, he said: "I'm not going to say anything; I haven't even met my staff."

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