Sir Stuart Etherington addresses University of Liverpool audience

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Sir Stewart Etherington and students
Sir Stuart Etherington

To a large audience of students, academics, voluntary sector practitioners, lawyers and regulators, Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations) delivered the University of Liverpool’s Charity Law & Policy Unit’s annual public lecture on 12th February 2015.  In a wide-ranging talk, entitled ‘Beyond the Big Society, Sir Stuart, considered the state of the voluntary sector and its relationship with government.  He explained why he was cautiously optimistic about the future of the sector, whatever the outcome of the upcoming general election.  He also spoke about the regulatory environment for the sector, with a focus both on the Charity Commission and the Lobbying Act’s potential implications for charities campaigning activities.  Whilst acknowledging the incredibly challenging times for many voluntary organisations, he concluded on an upbeat note: “There are roles and values that make the sector distinctive: holding governments to account, articulating what a better, fairer society might look like, arguing for a society characterised by social justice, empowerment and participation.  Regardless of whether you give it a name or not, politicians will want to, will need to, draw upon this uniqueness of the voluntary sector.”  The full text of Sir Stuart’s lecture is available to download here‌ .  Professor Debra Morris, Director of the Charity Law & Policy Unit, who had invited Sir Stuart, was delighted with the turnout and the reaction to the lecture.  She said: “Sir Stuart’s lecture provided much food for thought, for both the students and the others present.  We were delighted to have him in Liverpool.”