Working together – survival of the friendliest?

It’s been another busy week for JVN – a veritable whirlwind of meetings, speaking engagements for me, and preparations for our Pesach newsletter which is coming your way soon (watch this space!).

The latter half of the week was taken up preparing for our breakfast seminar with one of JVN’s corporate sponsors, Bircham Dyson Bell, called “Demystifying the Big Society” which we held at the JHub on Thursday 31st.  The idea was to take a look behind the jargon of the Big Society and to see what the implications are for JVN’s 220-plus partner organisations and the not-for-profit sector generally.

BDB, as we like to call them, are experts in the field of charity law and parliamentary agents, which puts them right at the heart of the action with Government.  JVN felt that by us working with BDB, we could help our partners get better access to the best and, most up to date, information available.

With an 8am start fuelled by extraordinarily strong coffee provided by our new Operations Manager Joanne Bell, a group of 20 selected guests– including funders, charity professionals and Trustees from across the Jewish community – sat down, a little bleary-eyed, in great expectation.

Jonathan Brinsden, who heads up the Charities and Not for Profit Team, more than stepped up to the mark, giving a thorough overview of what the Big Society is all about.  But, more importantly, given the economically challenging times we live, talked the participants through the different changes and challenges presented by Government policy – looking in turn at the giving environment for individual philanthropists; the funding available (or not!) from central and local government; the potential support from business and, also, finally from charity Foundations and Trusts themselves.

Following Jonathan’s presentation, the mood round the table was slightly subdued, because the competition for ever scarcer funds is a new, sobering fact of life.  David Breger, Partner of HW Fisher (JVN’s other corporate sponsor which provide specialist accountancy advice for the sector) was slightly more upbeat saying that while the funding environment for the charity sector is very tough, it’s also positive that the profile of charities and voluntary organisations is now raised and firmly on the agenda.  True enough.

But the most thought-provoking moment in the lively discussion was, David Lerner, Chief Executive of The Samuel Sebba Trust saying he believed that “it is always right that charities focus on what is best for their service users. They have an obligation to their clients and donors to work collaboratively with others in their sector both in terms of knowledge sharing and resources. Failure to do so in the current economic climate is both a moral failure and a betrayal of trust to the core mission of a charity”.

Firm words indeed.

But ones that JVN firmly agrees with.  We continually partner with other communal organisations and charities to share knowledge and resources – the breakfast seminar itself being a good example of this.  And our own charity’s mission is to help the Jewish charity sector as a whole work more easily.  It is going to be tough times ahead, particularly for small and medium sized charities, but we will continue to play our part.  Survival of the friendliest indeed.  And long may we continue to do so.  If you want to help JVN continue our collaborative role, please considering donating at


Categories: Leonie's View


Hi, I'm Mike, JVN's Youth Co-ordinator and blogger. I'll be blogging about all sorts of issues affecting the volunteering community, with a particular focus on how recent developments might affect the UK Jewish community's volunteers. I'm always interested to read the comments you make. If you have something you want to see in the JVN blog, e-mail me at and I'll be happy to talk. And if you're inspired by any of my blogs to volunteer, log on to and register to find your perfect volunteering opportunity.


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