Are we in control of our fete?

A typical image of UK village, or in fact any community, life for me is a fete or other fundraising event. In my mental picture ‘stuff’ is collected from the dark recesses of people’s homes for sale alongside home made cakes and ably supported by an ancient toddlers’ roundabout and the inevitable raffle. Everyone works hard to create the event, stands in the hot sun all day (memories are always sunny) running their stall. The hard work of clearing away is then followed by counting a mountain of coins and the satisfaction of a successful community event and a profit raised for a good cause.
Now move to the 21st century and you are likely to find legislation has overtaken the event and a large proportion of the above is probably breaking the law. Did you carry out a risk assessment? Do you have the appropriate gaming license to cover your raffle? Were health and safety rules followed during the production and sale of Old Mrs B’s infamous chocolate brownies? Don’t even consider letting your event spill out into the street or a whole new level of laws will be waiting for you.
Local events are a key part of our communities and way of life but at the same time the public need to be protected from dodgy goods, dangerous rides and the salmonella of part barbecued chicken.
Where does the the line of pragmatism lie that protects us without stifling life and the ‘big society’?

It’s a bank Jim, but not as we know it

I spent an unusual (for me) but interesting day today visiting two charities who have major projects to enhance their buildings so that they can improve the services they offer in their community.
The first was St Andrew’s Fulham Field Church which, as well as its Church of England duties, provides a hub for its community and a food and clothing service for the homeless.
The afternoon stop was at YMCA Wimbledon which is a place I have walked past many times during the past 35 years. Although I knew it was there it was a real eye opener to see the wide range of services it provides to its community such as childcare, fitness facilities and accommodation for (typically) younger people while they are helped along the path to an independent life.
Both building projects were able to happen thanks to funding provided by Charity Bank who kindly arranged the visits and kept me fed and watered. At the moment banks generally have very bad press coverage, and I can sympathise with those that have a mental picture of overpaid ‘fat cats’ making a mess of the lives and future of the wider population. However, I can see Charity Bank is a very different beast as it exists purely to pay a reasonable rate of interest to it’s investors so that it can then lend the money to charities. While doing this it also seems to avoid the poor loan default rate that has brought other banks to their knees. If this wasn’t enough, it raises itself further in my estimations by using any profits it makes for good causes.
Maybe it’s time to extend this banking model to personal and business customers, anyone got a few million to spare?