I’ve just been talked into serving as chairman of a local charity, the Esher Neighbourhood Fund, and I’m already starting to fret. Dominic Raab, Conservative MP for Esher and Walton, was my sponsor for the position. All I can say is, on his head be it.
I don’t mean to sound as if I’ve been dragged into the job kicking and screaming, but I did feel obliged to warn him that I know nothing about how such organisations work, let alone how they ought to work, and that I may therefore find myself knocking over the shop china. Having always operated in the business world, where the objective was usually clear, if not the means of achieving it, I dread finding myself having to untangle a mare’s nest of conflicting priorities, a task for which I do not bring the virtue of patience. Dominic seems to think that is a good thing.
I hope he’s right.
The ENF’s principal task is to raise enough money to attract partly-matched funds from the local council. The focus is on an area known as Lower Green, representing a pocket of economic deprivation in a borough statistically qualified as one of England’s most prosperous.
Nothing in the management of human affairs being simple, even before my first meeting, I was given a foretaste of political complexity. When I mentioned to a committee member that someone from the Lower Green community ought to attend our meetings, she warned that a person generally recognised by the committee as a community leader is a rather unpopular figure, the area being riven by what she described as ‘family feuds’.
Wish me luck.