The voluntary sector is the only hope for the future in our valueless society, Lord Phillips of Sudbury said yesterday.
In an impassioned speech to a CFG reception at the House of Lords, the Bates Wells & Braithwaite lawyer told the assembled guests that society was in the midst of a “profound crisis” that only the voluntary sector, with its “essential egalitarianism”, could fix.
“It’s not just a crisis about banks and money, it’s a crisis of values,” Lord Phillips said. “There is an ongoing de-moralisation of our society.”
One of the great paradoxes, he said, was that the “obscenely rich” gives less as a proportion of their earnings than those on the lowest incomes – “I think they must lose sight of the fact that these are their fellow human beings,” he said.
He added such an existential crisis arises once every 150 or 200 years, but thankfully, “being Brits we always manage to turn it around before we tumble off the cliff-edge”.
In the meantime though, he told the guests, “it is you, and the voluntary sector as a whole, who are the hope for the future.
“When I get really depressed I think about the charity sector. Because as much as society has an absence of values, charity is value-rich.
“There is an essential egalitarianism that I love about charity,” he went on. “It’s so inherent you don’t even have to talk about it – everybody is treated equal to everyone else. And in this society, which is so obsessed with sex, money and celebrity, that is a gift beyond price.”
He concluded by saying: “I wish you godspeed in the work you do because it could not be more important.”
CFG hosted the reception to celebrate its 25th anniversary.