Building for the Future

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Building for the Future's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Building for the Future is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Jane Holmes, CEO
Fun at Saturday Club
Building for the Future was established by a group of
mothers, all of whom have disabled children. Working
collaboratively with other local service providers, they
aim to promote excellence and a high standard of support
for all their members. They have also established an annual
awards ceremony to promote and highlight best practice
within the local community. Jane Holmes was part of the
original founding group and is now CEO. She explores the
balance between charity and business and explains their
In 2007, we, a group of mothers of disabled children from Wokingham,
announced that we wanted to open a community centre for our children and
others like them. This was initially treated with an element of disbelief. We think
it was our relentless and sustained enthusiasm that convinced people to support
our idea. Our dream may have been fragile, but we strongly believed in it and we
pursued it relentlessly.
After seven years of fundraising, profile building and networking, alongside
caring for our own children, Our House was opened in 2014 by the earl and
countess of Wessex. Since then, the charity has gone from strength to strength,
with over 500 families now coming through the door over the course of a year,
accessing numerous activities, from physiotherapy to playgroups.
»CEO: Jane Holmes
»Founded in 2007
»Based in Wokingham,
Berkshire and the surrounding
»Services: Support activities and
»No. of employees: 2 part-
time workers, supported by
»No. of users: 500
Building for the Future
To ensure that our services remain
the best they can be, we engage fully
with the families who visit our centre.
It is possible to guess what people
might like to see, but the best way to
make certain is simply to ask them.
We carry out regular consultation
exercises with parents, although
the children remain our biggest and
therefore most-valued critics. We
actively encourage feedback and we
act on this advice where possible.
Learning to value criticism is an
important lesson for anyone, and it is
even more crucial for service providers
like us. It is time-consuming and often
the conversation turns into parent-
to-parent support or a rant about
services not being met, but it is always
worth it. After all, the charity does not
belong to us: it belongs to the people
who use it.
Unlike businesses, charities do not
seek to make a profit. This mindset
can be difficult for people joining
us from a business background to
grasp; however, it is essential that
they do. Keeping reserves up to a
certain level is important, but funding
opportunities can sometimes be
turned down if they are surplus to
Working collaboratively with
other local services
We have found working
collaboratively with other charities
working with disabled children to
be invaluable. Offering both mutual
support and the use of our centre,
we like to be as generous as we
possibly can. Along with another local
disabled children’s charity, we set up
a forum for the chief executives of all
the relevant services in Wokingham.
This not only ensures that we work
in partnership but also enables us to
support each other’s organisations
and offer help if necessary. We are
also able to make sure that our
services are efficient and streamlined,
avoiding duplication with other
With regard to finances, our model
is particularly efficient. We have only
two part-time paid members of staff
and the rest are volunteers. Many
of those working for the charity are
parents of disabled children, and
we are very much parent led. As our
premises are fully accessible, we are
one of the only places in our area
that is appropriate for certain disabled
users to spend any length of time.
We are therefore in high demand
and we charge a nominal rent to
fellow groups, as well as allowing
Siblings are always
We carry out
exercises with
although the
children remain
our biggest and
therefore most-
valued critics
Highlighting best practice
private parties to rent the centre. This
provides us with a good proportion of
our necessary income. The rest comes
from fundraising initiatives, and it
is through many of these that we
have found opportunities to raise the
profile of our charity, such as through
our annual awards ceremony, which
recognises wonderful people working
with disabled children.
A well-run charity is a business just
like any other and encounters all
the same sorts of challenges. Egos
clash, employee issues arise and
people come and go, yet we have
managed to keep a long-standing
and committed number of staff
and volunteers who have been with
us for years. This consistency has
created some wonderful working
relationships, which have served
to strengthen our service and to
maintain loyalty between those who
work here.
A desire to succeed
Without having big ideas, we would
quite simply not exist, and our
charity has always been fast-paced,
progressive and ambitious. People
are often surprised at the scale of our
aspirations, but we have proved that
an unwavering dedication to our aim
pays off. Our plan for the next five
years is to open new premises. This
space will provide enough room for
our current provision and will also
include a learning centre for young
adults with disabilities. The aim is to
employ disabled adults to help to run
the centre. It is our belief that everyone
has a contribution to make to society,
assisted by a good level of appropriate
support and the right plans.
Currently, in our area, many disabled
school-leavers find that there is
very little for them to do. Others do
access a college provision but there
are often long waiting lists or they
must attend a college some miles
away, which can prove very costly.
We have spoken to parents who have
had to stop work when their children
leave school in order to provide the
24-hour care that they need. There
is strong evidence to suggest that
opening this new centre will not
only give a greater purpose to many
disabled young adults but will also
create efficiency and save money for
our local authority.
If we had to think of one word
that sums up running a successful
charity, we would say opportunity.
Opportunity is everywhere. The trick is
to spot it, grab it with both hands and
take advantage of it. That, we believe,
is what sets a good charity apart from
a great one.
There is strong
evidence to
suggest that
opening this
new centre will
not only give a
greater purpose
to many disabled
young adults but
will also create
efficiency and
save money for
our local
Holiday session at Our

This article was sponsored by Building for the Future. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy