My Week: Charlotte Ravenscroft listens to Balls in Brighton

The head of policy and research at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations recounts her week

Charlotte Ravenscroft
Charlotte Ravenscroft

MONDAY - We've divvied up the party conferences this year, rather than subjecting anyone to a conferences marathon. I'm at Labour. I get to Brighton in time for the speech by Ed Balls. Then a Joseph Rowntree Foundation-hosted event reminds us all of the many challenges that reforming the welfare system is presenting. Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne tells us he thinks universal credit is "too big to fail" and that they will look more at preventive services and creating better jobs. Easy to say, of course.

TUESDAY - In the exhibition hall, I enjoy Guide Dogs' mini golf, drawing attention to the problem of street clutter. I speak to lots of charities about the lobbying bill - there's concern, but people are pleased we've got a commitment from the government to amend it. During Ed Miliband's speech, Number 10 calls, asking if I can come to a meeting tomorrow about small and medium-sized enterprise procurement. It's an important issue that requires more than the four weeks consultation time allotted - and we've told them so.

WEDNESDAY - This week we're working on consultation responses on digital giving, SME procurement, judicial review and Department for Work and Pensions commissioning. That's on top of the lobbying bill and kicking off our work on campaigning standards. At Number 10, minister Lord Young says he understands that charities have wider concerns about public sector procurement and will seek to do more on these issues.

THURSDAY - I sift through the applications for a policy manager. Last week, we had more than 230 applications for a policy trainee position. Then I'm off to a round-table meeting with Chloe Smith, minister for political and constitutional reform.

FRIDAY - I run a policy work session for trainees, then have a post-work drink with colleagues heading to the Conservative conference tomorrow. I remind them of Maggie Smith's line in Downton Abbey: "What's a weekend?"

The NCVO is an umbrella body for the voluntary and community sector in England

Charlotte Ravenscroft is head of policy and research at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations

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