Charity Next Spring Reception 2019
Charity Next Spring Reception, May 2019
by Edwin Oliver-Watts
On Monday 20 May, we held the Charity Next Spring Reception, kindly hosted by EY Foundation (one of our Charity Next partner organisations) in their Southwark offices. This event is our biannual opportunity to bring together the ever-expanding network of Civil Service secondees, not-for-profit host organisations and alumni of the scheme to meet, network and share experiences of the programme.
As with previous Charity Next events, the evening provided a fantastic opportunity for the cross-sector exchange that the programme and WIG are designed to foster. The event was well-attended, with more than fifty civil servants and not-for-profit sector representatives speaking with each other about the challenges they faced and how to solve them together, both generally, and specifically around the theme of the event: climate change.
Our speaker for the evening was Gareth Redmond-King, Head of Climate Change at WWF-UK, a former senior civil servant, and currently the manager of a Charity Next secondee. He gave an inspiring – though at times alarming – talk on the enormous issue of man-made global warming, and what we as individuals and organisations can do to combat it. Against the backdrop of EY Foundation’s extraordinary view of the Thames, a reminder of our reliance on the natural world even in the largest urban centres, the importance of a cross-sector approach to dealing with this preeminent problem of our time felt close to home. Gareth, in his talk and his extensive answers to the audience’s questions, stressed this point: “Bringing sectors together, moving people between the sectors, is part of trying to build a response… with a sophistication that matches the complexity of a problem like this. [We need a] diversity of perspectives, skills and experience, sharing those between organisations and between sectors.”
After the talk, we introduced a new idea to measure the ongoing impact of Charity Next placements, in the form of written pledges, in which all attendees made a promise to try to improve society by undertaking a cross-sector action within six months. We received a range of responses, though most were unsurprisingly focused on the environment after Gareth’s invigorating talk, from switching to an ethical bank or cleaner energy supplier to giving up meat or raising environmental concerns at work.
It was an affirmative evening for the success of Charity Next, with civil servants and not-for-profit organisations alike consistently saying how beneficial they had found the programme; indeed, it was hard to find a secondee who did not think that their secondment had been the most developing, and enjoyable, period of their time on the Fast Stream.
Thank you to EY Foundation, Gareth Redmond-King, and all those who attended – we look forward to hearing the progress you have made towards your pledges in six months!
Senior Charity Next & Talent Executive
Edwin works on the Talent team, including helping to co-ordinate Charity Next, a programme facilitating secondments for future leaders of the public sector into the voluntary sector. Edwin graduated from the University of Oxford with a BA in History and Politics.