Dear Reader and Visitor
My name is Anthony Lawton—neither the tatooist nor the actor that Google Images reveals first, but the one-time Chief Executive of the UK national youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, Executive Director at Kneehigh Theatre, Chair of Curve (regional theatre and performing arts centre in Leicester), and most recently Warden and CEO of The Mary Ward Settlement in Bloomsbury.
Before the unexpected and, to me, unwelcome trauma of being sacked from that most recent full-time job, I had been variously and successfully CEO or senior executive, chair or non-executive director, employee or volunteer at various not-for-financial-profit enterprises, and chair of a very small family company. These enterprises have encompassed youth service and youth policy, youth work and adult education, housing and homelessness, theatre and cultural action, publishing, employment and economic development, counselling and advice, and grant-making. I was also at one point an international civil servant—which I loved; and a local government official—which I loathed. In higher education I worked for a few years in business schools, and was a part-time fellow at Oxford University’s Nuffield College.
I am still the chair of the small family company and a grant-making trust, and trustee/non-executive director of a couple of charities. I currently answer the question ‘what do you do’ according to my mood of the day—by saying variously that I am ‘enjoying home’, ‘writing’, ‘resting’, ‘retired’ or ‘unemployed’! My last two years have unexpectedly been dominated by both mental and physical illness which was triggered by the trauma caused by deeply damaging and appalling behaviour (in the eyes of others and peers, not just myself) of my last employer, led by a manipulative and egotistical chair acting contrary to the charity’s espoused values. But, I have at last recovered my enthusiasm for the issues and ideas which filled my previous working life. I have moved from tweeted 140-character indignation (www.twitter.com/rsutcliff) to, I hope, more thoughtful reflection here!
Over the last thirty-five years of my life, the wider context for both family and charity enterprise has changed markedly. The social and economic spheres of market, state and civil society increasingly overlap. Commercial, public and social enterprises, public services and government, charity and community organisations interact more and more. This can increase benefits for individuals and the community; but it also challenges charities to hold to effective and distinctive values and practices, and to continue to be imaginative, enterprising and generous.
This context, framing my work experiences and linked with my personal story, has given rise to a stableful of hobby-horses. And, since I have the time to write and the freedom to rant, I ride them here in this blog … I hope you find the posts interesting and stimulating, and occasionally even useful. If you want to, do please ‘comment’ on posts so that ‘this’ might become a conversation and a vehicle for developing insight and understanding, not merely a blog of my own views. (You can sign up here to receive by email notice of posts and comments.)
Anthony Lawton OBE