Thursday, 23 December 2010

And where were you when we were all battling the weather?

Firstly I was here for the chaos of the tube strikes.

Secondly I was here for the first snow chaos.

OK – so I was in Cape Town for two weeks until Tuesday. We were watching the UK news and I really, really felt everyone’s pain but somehow no one believed me.

As with many, our flight home on Sunday night was cancelled. However, the rest of our experience was very different. I received a text from BA at about 10pm on Saturday night to say the flight was cancelled. They, very unhelpfully, then gave a number to call which only operated during office hours Monday to Friday and the website was hardly responding. However I managed to find a local BA employee at Cape Town airport who very wisely advised me to rebook on the Monday night flight then and there which we did. We then had a trouble free journey home unlike thousands who were stranded here. Our friends in Cape Town (and everyone here) thought we were mad to come back but, as glorious as Cape Town is and it is very glorious, home is home.

While I was enjoying the sunshine, everyone at Campaign was working flat out. A lot of work was being done analysing the results of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month (and for some, recovering from working six weekends on the trot!).

A letter organised by Campaign’s Policy team was published in The Times on 16 December; (you have to pay to access the website so I can’t give you their link) but you can read it here on our website. It was signed by 122 leading cancer scientists and clinicians, and demanded that the Government renew its commitment to the Charity Research Support Fund. (The CRSF is the mechanism via which the Government funds the indirect costs of charity research, such as university libraries, allowing charities such as Campaign to fund only the direct costs of research.)

On December 20 the Business Secretary issued the annual grant letter which sets out Government funding for universities for the next four years. This is the first step in deciding the funding for the CRSF. We are therefore really pleased that for the first time ever in this annual process, the Business Secretary has given a clear Government endorsement for protecting charity funded research. The letter said that the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) should plan for “protecting funding leveraged from external sources such as the charitable and business sectors.”

The campaigning that we and others have done on this issue has helped to produce this result.

This is a satisfying way to end the year – lots more to do.

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