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Most people admit there should be no theological reflection on how we might vote in the referendum on the Alternative Vote on the 5th May. It is a matter of political not theological preference. Cramner and Bartley disagree.
‘There is a strong theological and ethical rationale for voting for reform. The Christian bias toward the vulnerable, the powerless, and the voiceless sits uneasily with a first-past-the-post system that favours the powerful and the vocal.’
Jonathan Bartley Yes to AV spokesperson
“Jesus Himself would be unlikely to win under AV. And if the Lord would not be elected, how many Christians might be elected to Westminster under the system? Could they ever talk about something as divisive as religion? Have a stance on abortion? Support faith schools? Utter a word on ‘gay rights’? Venture an opinion on religious liberty?”
Cramner (anonymous blogger)
Last week I was at a conference about Philanthropy. One of the keynote speakers told us we had got it all wrong, that the Voluntary Sector is not alone or unique in existing for the benefit of those it serves, and that businesses share our motive. The purpose of businesses, the speaker suggested, is to create products and services that improve lives and make money doing it, so they can keep doing more. The motive is in the improving lives, not the making of money. I beg to differ.
Glaxo Smith Klein may describe their mission to be “to improve the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer” but that is not the whole story. They are a business, and profit is the important bottom line. Their services are a means to an end, a money making end. The Voluntary and Community sector is different. We are not here to make money, we are here to further charitable objectives, in our case to relieve poverty and disadvantage. We do not change our objectives because there is no money in our particular field, we fight to continue to serve in a climate where it is unprofitable to do so, because we will always fight to see poverty obliterated and disadvantage overturned.
Like many other charities working in local communities, we found out this week that our funding is being reduced. Our local authority has seen their budget reduced by a third, and are passing on some of this reduction to us. This is not a case of a bad local authority dealing with its own cuts by getting rid of front line services, or protecting its own money by cutting the voluntary sector grants, it is the inevitable outcome if central government make large reductions to local communities overnight.
The fact is, we know that the need for our services will climb in this economic climate, the funding available however will not. In fact it may well continue to shrink. If we were a for profit business we would walk. Staying put and remaining committed to serving those who will be hardest hit by this economic climate is not good business rational, but we are not motivated by profit and we will stay, because the need has not gone away.
The Voluntary and Community sector will be strengthened by building closer links with business. Understanding where there is synergy in our work will mean that we can form cross sector partnerships that achieve the best outcomes for our beneficiaries. The private sector has huge strengths, often strong values, and there is space at the table for both, but we are not the same, we exist for very different reasons, so let’s be honest about that.
Nancy Doyle, CEO of Aquila Way.