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Private jets... whatever next?!

I wonder if anyone else reading this article was struck by a thought has the world gone mad.  How much longer can we as humans go along with this sort of commercial creativity?

Whilst at first it might appear to be a very practical approach being adopted by the law firm, I fear it smacks of employees being treated like cattle.   

Where is our quality of life heading if in cities all around the world workers - and well paid legal eagles at that - can simply no longer afford to live close to their office?

No wonder we are all becoming more lonely and seeing increased incidence of poor mental health when what we have to contribute can be traded in this way.

Do tell me I am not alone in having these thoughts... This is probably why I am not working for that law firm either!

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Patterson and Sheridan, an intellectual-property law firm headquartered in Houston, bought a nine-seat plane to shuttle its patent lawyers to clients.

Though the jet cost $3 million, it's cheaper than hiring local lawyers, and even less expensive than relocating the Texas lawyers with business in Silicon Valley to the area.
Each flight costs about $1,900 a passenger - but since the lawyers
are working in-flight, the three-to-four-hour ride is billable. Plus, private flights protect any confidential work and
save the firm's lawyers about 36 collective hours they would
spend arriving early, waiting in security, and checking bags on a
commercial flight.

The firm says it's "still able to offer
lower costs because most of the patent work is done in Houston,
where commercial real estate is 43% cheaper, salaries 52% lower,
and competition for technical talent far less fierce" .

Prevention has to be the Big Picture

Delighted to read Lord John Bird, founder of the Big Issue has commented on this week's budget.   I remember meeting him in Bristol a few years ago at a training school for circus artists that was housed in a converted church!  

Obviously one of those encounters you never forget. Yet what it really showed me at the time was that great things can and do happen when we find ways to work together to solve problems.   

So I couldn't agree more with his suggestion that we must prioritise prevention for more entrenched causes of poverty like mental health problems rather than wanting simply to relieve the growing homelessness situation.   

How many organisations, I wonder though, will really be willing to look beyond themselves and become change makers in this way?  

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Lord John Bird welcomed parts of this year’s Budget, but also warned the government against “missing the bigger picture” of poverty prevention.

The Big Issue’s founder urged the government to “weave prevention into the work of every policy and every department.”

Bird welcomed the extra support for vulnerable renters at risk of homelessness and the Housing First pilot schemes to provide rough sleepers with accommodation, but urged communities secretary Sajid Javid to now “go further.”

“Housing First can’t be the flagship policy if it’s not combined with an all-out effort to treat people’s inner demons; to cure their mental issues for good,” he said.

“Otherwise we’re just treading water – and in the long-term, all we’re doing is moving people from hostel, to A&E, to prison, to the streets.”

Because it matters

Something always matters to someone, but I sense there is a growing need for a civic movement that looks beyond our individual needs to those that will benefit the greater good.   

Interesting then that the Gulf Coast Community Foundation has just launched a whole new programme built around advancing civility.   Reminding everyone that communities need strong foundations on which to thrive and acting with civility is essential to this.   Yet I still find this somewhat concerning that it appears we need reminding that we should respect others and say thank you!   

Obviously now is the time for more than a little kindness...

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Today as much as ever, we must renew the spirit of civil discourse and invigorate the practice of civic engagement. Embracing civility is an antidote to the hyper-partisanship and coarsening communication that our society bemoans on a daily basis. We must advance civility if we want to advance our communities.

For our part here in our region, Gulf Coast Community Foundation this month launched a civility initiative, Because It Matters. We are working with our community to introduce ten keys to civility like “listen,” “respect others,” “say thank you” and “make a difference” into our schools and workplaces. Civility is the foundation of community. If we can’t find common ground, how can we build for the common good?

I say it’s time to push back against trending extremism and advance civility together. I invite you to learn about this movement

Field Catalysts: The Unseen Agents That Galvanize Social Change

One of my trustees often reads the New York Times and last week they shared a link to a report which seemed to support our evolving Ambition strategy.  Interestingly it even proposed the idea of Field Catalyst as a new name for OCF's activities in this area.

Having a chemist as our Board Chair we often talk about the potential of catalysts to get things going and this new report suggests as we have shared repeatedly in our research report Oxfordshire Uncovered, when social issues are complicated, “field catalysts” are the bridge to bring together wealthy philanthropists and activists to make real progress.

Therefore, always good to know our work is being affirmed by others especially as we prepare for our next Think Tank / Board Away Day next month.   

Lots more reading and lots more thinking to do.

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Taz Hussein, partner at the consultant Bridgespan Group and author of the report “Field Catalysts: The Unseen Agents That Galvanize Social Change,” said he and his colleagues had identified 15 social change efforts — like reducing malaria deaths, bringing about same-sex marriage, reducing obesity . They found that each effort had a core organization providing leadership and support to other groups tackling the same issue.

“These organizations would never say they were the organizations driving these changes,” Mr. Hussein said. “In terms of size relative to the total investment, these organizations are relatively small, and they’re nimble. They try to take that bird’s-eye view and problem solve. They helped to align funders.”

They were also, he said, “trying to be appropriately humble.”

Housing in crisis

Yet another article highlighting the reality behind our current housing crisis.  I think more people should be questioning how we can have reached a point where since 2010 the number of new social homes has plummeted by 97 per cent, from almost 37,000 in 2010 to just over 1,100 last year?   

How does current policy make it possible for the Government to be spending four times as much – some £32bn – subsidising private housing as it is building affordable homes for low income families?   A recent study suggests 79% of the total housing budget is currently spent on higher-cost homes for sale, including through the controversial Help to Buy scheme, but only 21%, around £8bn, goes to affordable homes for rent.

So not surprising then that in another article this week the headline was number one reason for homelessness is now loss of an assured short hold tenancy.  

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John Healey, the Shadow Housing Secretary, said: “Affordable housebuilding is at a 24-year low as Conservative ministers have washed their hands of any responsibility to build the homes families on ordinary incomes need. 

Tory cuts cause 85 per cent fall in new homes for vulnerable people

“Ministers have tried to hide their failure to build more affordable homes by branding more homes as ‘affordable’. The Conservative definition of ‘affordable housing’ now includes homes close to full market rent and those on sale for up to £450,000. 

 ”Public concern about housing is around the highest level for 40 years. Millions of families are struggling with high housing costs. Faced with this, ministers have turned their back on the way they can help most: by building low-cost homes to rent and buy.

A week that sees a generation of Brexit Children start school

Well so says the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) who choose this week to also launch a new a five-point plan to solve poverty by 2030. 

As seems to be the case these days, I initially picked all this up via twitter this morning, and whilst having appreciated the simplicity of the infographic that was chosen to illustrate this plan I was keen to read more.   Fuelled in part, I admit due to the fact that I will be leading a conference workshop next week in Cardiff to explore the role of community foundations against the background of emerging social problems after Brexit.  So it was fairly obvious to me there was an immediate possibility that I might be able to include reference to this new JRF plan.

Highlighting the social inequalities that exist in our communities has always been a priority for the Oxfordshire Community Foundation, and our recent report Oxfordshire Uncovered has been a great enabler in this.   However, I am one of life's doers and always prefer to see action rather than lots of thinking and I have always seen potential upside in more collaboration as opposed to it being fraught with difficulty.   Therefore, I was particularly drawn into the suggestion in JRF new five-point plan that governments, business and the public must now work together on finding a solution to poverty.

I believe we can all make a start on this by sharing stories of injustice that have to change.  As is referred to in the report it cannot be right that those on the lowest of incomes actually pay what is described as a 'poverty premium', meaning the relative costs of the most vital services such as gas, electricity and loans are typically charged at 10% more. 

A fascinating yet most uncomfortable piece of local knowledge shows the reality of this in the price of a banana at various shops across the county, and for those with limited access to transport often living on housing estates having to pay 35p for one banana compared to 16p at the nearest supermarket.  

Therefore I urge you to read the report and ask yourself what can you do to #solveukpoverty?

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PM urged to make good on promise ‘to make Britain work for everyone’
Responsible capitalism needs to end the scandal of people in poverty paying more for everyday goods and services 
£20m fund announced to tackle ‘poverty premium’
A new ‘long term deal’ to solve poverty – between governments, business and the public - is needed to solve poverty in a generation, so the first cohort of ‘Brexit children’ starting school this Autumn grow up and enter adult life in a UK that is prosperous and poverty-free.
The independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) today launches a five-point plan to solve poverty by 2030. It is the most comprehensive strategy of its kind to set out how to solve poverty across all groups in the UK.
The first priority is a reboot of markets towards a more responsible capitalism that benefits people on low incomes. JRF is calling for government, regulators and companies to work together to end the ‘poverty premium’, where people on low incomes pay more for goods and services such as fuel and credit.
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