Politics: Lobby briefing - Hazel Blears, chair of the Labour Party

How should charities address government?

I'm torn on this question. There are representative organisations such as Acevo and the NCVO, and they're great. Life is sometimes easier for government if you have representative organisations, because you have to deal only with them. But I think there's something special about meeting the one person who is absolutely energised about, let's say, brown paper bags.

Why?

I recently met some women in my constituency who have set up a social enterprise to take waste from a fruit and vegetable market and turn it into compost. I could meet Acevo and it could tell me about that project, and as a politician I might find it easier to deal with a representative organisation.

But I also want to find the individual who runs the project, because that tells me something about the passion behind the sector.

I think there is a danger a sector can lose what makes it special.

What's that?

That's people being a bit quirky, a bit maverick and being prepared to do things outside of the usual public sector service provision.

So charities shouldn't rely too much on representative bodies?

I do believe in collective action, but I'd also say "please don't lose the edge you've got, because you're different".

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