Friday, 27 November 2015

Confident accountability

I went into the CBS office earlier than usual this morning to meet up with Ashley, as we had a meeting scheduled with the City Council's Scrutiny Committee across lunchtime down in County Hall. The committee is reviewing the Council's engagement in support of the night time economy, or NTE as it's referred to in bureaucratic circles. CBS supplies half of its radios to those working evenings and nights. Restaurants, pubs and clubs comprise about forty percent, and ten per cent are public service or pro bono users like the Street Pastors, Ambulance and Alcohol Treatment Centre users. 

It was pleasing that we were, for the first time, invited to give an account of the contribution made by CBS, to inform the committee of the level of resources the NTE demands of the City. The question is: does the City cover the cost of this commitment. If not, how can it? None of our business. We just run a voluntary social enterprise that benefits the NTE as much as the daytime economy, and supports, at the point of need, others making an effort and giving their services. All is funded from the revenue radio subscribers provide. All radio users are stakeholders in making Cardiff a better place to be in, and trade in. Without the support of so many volunteers, it wouldn't be nearly so good.

I joined CBS when I retired as an expression of appreciation for the supply of a pro bono radio to St John's tea room, after a spate of thefts from handbags in church over the previous year. The radio is still there, still in use. The thief was caught by other means, but the fact that the radio was there  to provide a link to help from the outside world in one small quiet corner, was a confidence booster for volunteers. This was the first of more than a dozen radios now in the hands of city centre volunteers. I can't hide my satisfaction at applying admin and management skills I learned as a parish priest to the task of building a company back office, and enabling it to deliver a service, driven not by personal profit motive, but by the creative energy of voluntary goodwill, for the benefit of the city. 

This impulse has, down the ages, been part of city life, recognised or not, and it has everything to do with ensuring citizens' welfare, safety and security - not for personal gain, but building a community worth living in. It's similar to the impulse that drives people into the local political area, volunteering themselves for election as councillors in pursuit of the common good, regardless of the criticism they have to endure. It's not about personal gain or status, but about ensuring the common good through personal service. Thank heavens so many are prepared to commit themselves to make this effort!

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