Monday, 3 October 2011

Excellence in the Third Sector

We were just pipped at the post! The NFWI, working in partnership with the Prison Reform Trust, came second with a highly commended accolade in the category Charity Partnership at last night’s Third Sector Excellence Awards. I am immensely proud of this achievement and even more so of what the campaign has achieved in many areas; not least in the role it has played in helping to change the minds of so many when considering whether custody can truly work for those with mental illness.

The Health and Justice Secretaries made a promise in March of this year to put £5,000,000 into a 100 diversion schemes across the country by 2014 and we must make sure that this promise is kept, along with the other necessary changes demonstrated in the Bradley Report published in Dec 2010. This very topic was discussed around the table during the Labour Party Conference this week, with Lord Bradley commenting that it is a community issue and not a prison issue. Several MPs and professionals in the field such as the Prison Reform Trust, Prison Governors’ Association, Rethink Mental Illness, Mental Health NHS Conference, Centre for Mental Health, Prison Officers' Association and Turning Point certainly agreed, adding that the Health and Wellbeing Boards would play a critical role in any diversion scheme. A diverse range of organisations, some of which were present at the discussion, need to be part of any scheme to help those in need because of the complex needs of many individuals entering the system. Questions keep needing to be asked because the only way to achieve a result is to keep pestering those decision makers to always keep people in mind when making all of their complex decisions.

Whilst we’re remembering campaign asks from the past few years, the WI will not forget that the regulations for labelling meat products with their country of origin is still awaited. We now have mandatory labelling on meat – sheep, poultry, pork and goat; beef and veal are separate – within the next three years, but constituted products are not yet on the list. A briefing by Defra officials to the food industry this week gave the necessary information that will need to go on to labels, for example the size of space, the size of font and much more, and nutrition labelling issues were also explained as well as information on where and when Food Information Regulation takes over from Food Labelling Regulation. All this under the banner of ‘a regulation on the provision of food information to consumers’!

As another week comes to an end, the WI is on the move once again – this time to Bedfordshire, where the NFWI will hold its annual council meeting. The ANC, as it is known is a two-day gathering of chairmen and treasurers from all 69 federations where the policy, vision and action in the context of growing numbers of members and women wanting to become members is discussed throughout the weekend. The WI is here to inspire women and we are certainly doing that.

And thinking of women, at the awards ceremony last night I met the CEO of the Stroke Association who told me that more women than men experience strokes, and early recognition of symptoms and fast action can save a life. They are always looking for volunteer champions who will spread the word of FAST action.

Quite a week – here’s to the next!