EAC celebration event

Hilary Benn Tim Smit Mark Walton

I’ve just got back from a very enjoyable and productive day at the Every Action Counts celebration event at the Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre. I was able to re-establish contact with old friends and several people that I felt I knew quite well but had never met.

Hilary Benn, Defra’s Secretary of State, addressed the audience of Every Action Counts partners and friends and took questions. He thanked all those who had been involved in the programme and highlighted on-going Defra/Third Sector activities including the Minsterial Task Force, the Third Sector Advisory Board and this blog!

Tim Smit, founder of the Eden Project, addressed the conference and reminded us of the importance of innovation and the nurchering of ideas that emerge ‘from around the kitchen table’.

I helped facilitate a workshop on Government/Third Sector partnerships in which those with a long-term involvement in Every Action Counts were not shy in coming forward with suggestions on things that could be done better (especially by Defra) in the future. I think some of this learning has already been applied in the current third sector work programme but there are more learning points which we will need to pick up. We will do this formally when the EAC Evaluation is published shortly.

A point that really came into focus for me during the day is that not all funding is the same. The point was made that government finds it difficult to fund primary innovation because of the inherent risk of failure and the potential for the understandable backlash that occurs when publically-funded projects are seen to ‘fail’. On the otherhand, Jo Temple of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, said that they find it easier to fund innovation and accept a level of ‘failure’ (learning?) that might be unacceptable in a publically funded project. However she said that trusts can often find if difficult to scale up the things that work.

This led to a discussion afterwards with Jill Rutter (Defra) and Maria Adebowale (Capacity Global) about how funders might work more strategically together. Maria indicated that they were already looking at this issue . . . . watch this space.

Mark Walton, the Head of Every Action Counts, topped and tailed the event very effectively. The most heartening remark he made was “We have started a whole new movement here which will not stop just because a funding stream has come to an end”. At the end of the day Mark focussed on what might be the legacy of Every Action Counts and his list included:

  • Resources
  • People
    • community champions (1000s)
  • Partnership
    • between organisations from the social and environmental sectors working together to deliver change
    • cross fertilisation of ideas
    • improved understanding between Defra and the Third Sector as evidenced by the Third Sector Strategy
    • more cross-departmental working as seen in the Ministerial Task Force and the work with DIUS on the role of adult education in sustainability
  • Knowledge, commitment and leadership
    • the linking and integration of sustainability into the main drivers for the third sector: tackiling poverty and social injustice
    • contributing to:
      • the Oxfam/NEF poverty and climate change roundtable
      • the Carnegie enquiry
      • the Baring Foundation initiative
      • PQASSO
      • Charity Commission and CFDG guidance
      • Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) climate change and poverty work programme

The full evaluation of EAC will be available shortly and when it is we will be posting links to it on this blog.

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One Comment

  1. Posted 7 May, 2009 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Simon – good morning, and thank you for your comments and thoughts yesterday at the EAC celebration event (I know you will have had a separate note of thanks from Maria). This note from me to welcome your blog, and to ask if you could make a link to the EAC creative commons materials – either in an update, or in a future version?

    You’ll find all the guides and other materials here: http://www.everyactioncounts.org.uk/en/fe/page.asp?n1=230&n2=281 (and I envisage that these pages and materials will continue to be accessible when responsibility for the website reverts back to CDF at the end of June). We’ll be updating with the remaining two guides later in May.

    Best wishes

    Jeremy Fennell | Sustainability Manager, bassac

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