This work also taught me about the financial structures, disciplines and governance in organisations. In the statutory sector at that time, a practitioner and a first line manager needed to understand precious little about the way in which services were funded and financially managed. You could not work in the voluntary sector in such innocence however. All too often, in a voluntary organisation, it was up to the staff to generate the income that paid their own salaries. This experience proved valuable as statutory organisations very soon began to grapple with the consequences of cash limited budgets and ‘cost centre’ management structures. Whereas for many, this requirement to engage with the financial realities of an organisation was a troublesome diversion from the true client centred purpose of the organisation, I felt differently. Just as in the case of the young man in therapy whose therapist took no interest in how he raised the money to pay for the sessions, only to find that the young man was stealing it, I did not think that the work of helping people could be done in some kind of therapeutic bubble, and this was equally true for organisations. There is no such think as unconditional help, free from all constraints – love is always offered within the boundaries of a concrete reality, and has to be negotiated in the context of that reality. True love is ‘good enough’ love not some fantasy of perfection.
Working in Partnership – Voluntary Organisations 3