Annual Attlee Lecture 2012 Round-Up (Transcript Available For Download)

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman (left) congratulates Sir Stuart Etherington (right) after his successful address at the 30th annual Attlee Lecture.

Another year and another successful annual Attlee Lecture. Speaking on the subject of philanthropy, fairness and democracy, Stuart Etherington outlined the role of philanthropy in today’s society, suggesting that the role of philanthropy is to ‘mind the gap’ between the state, the market and the individual. Philanthropy, he said, should be focussed on innovation to pump prime new ideas and services that the state and market cannot, as the Attlee Foundation has achieved in creating the Attlee Youth and Community Centre.

Mayor Lutfur Rahman reaffirmed his support for the voluntary sector, stating that “Promoting fairness and democracy requires a multi-agency approach where public, private, third sector and faith organisations work together, alongside residents.

“Tower Hamlets Council has demonstrated its commitment to reducing inequality by working with Tonybee Hall to launch the Tower Hamlets Fairness Commission earlier this week.

“As the commissioners undertake research over the next few months I hope the Attlee Foundation will share their insight into these issues and help shape the recommendations for making Tower Hamlets a fairer and more cohesive borough.”

Chair of the Attlee Foundation, Richard Henchley added that “Attlee regarded voluntary activity and contribution as a duty of citizenship in a civilised society. It is a privilege for us to host the leaders of the voluntary sector and our Borough at a time when we are developing a pioneering family-based community hub with our voluntary sector partners.”

We here at the Attlee Foundation would just like to thank all those who attended and donated generously, particularly to Sir Stuart Etherington for his fascinating and thought-provoking thesis.

If you would like to view the transcript of Sir Stuart Etherington’s lecture on ‘Philanthropy, Fairness and Democracy’, just follow the download link below.


Attlee Lecture (8th November 2012)

The Attlee Foundation is pleased to announce its 30th annual lecture on Thursday the 8th of November 2012. Speaking on the subject of “Philanthropy, fairness and democracy” will be Chief Executive of National Council for Voluntary Organisations, Sir Stuart Etherington. 

Today’s austerity society would appear to have mixed feelings about charity and philanthropy. A majority of the population give, yet we don’t appear to like being asked. We think it’s a good thing that philanthropists give to charity but we’re cynical about their motives, particularly when it comes to the tax system. Attitudes towards welfare are hardening but we’re uneasy about the increasing appearance of foodbanks. And volunteers are being celebrated more than in living memory – but should they really help to run libraries?

Much of this unease relates to a changing society, one where the roles of government, charity and individual responsibility are shifting. Rooted in much of this unease is a sense of fairness – or rather lack of it – as changes in welfare provision, the tax system and public services create winners and losers. For philanthropists, charities and the voluntary sector, the question that follows is: are we addressing or worsening the cause of a fair society? Is social action, in all its guises, strengthening our democracy or undermining it? And is a society where social action plays a bigger role a better society?

The need for voluntary action in the context of the major changes introduced by the post war Attlee Administration was discussed extensively in Lord Beveridge’s 1948 Report on Methods of Social Advance and, in 1977, on the 30th anniversary of the welfare state, by the Report of the Woolfenden Committee on The Future of Voluntary Organisations.

The NCVO is a membership organisation which has over 8,400 member organisations that represents the interests of charities and voluntary bodies. Sir Stuart was previously Chief Executive of the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, a major UK charity.

The lecture will take place in the Attlee Youth and Community Centre, E1 6RT. Please arrive 6pm for 6:30pm start.