Parliamentary Presentation

The Government will be challenged to take a lead role in ensuring society retains enterprise, entrepreneurship and healthy risk taking in our lives.

Chaired by Libby Purves, well-known broadcaster, educationalist, entrepreneur, adventurer, the event will focus on the vital place of enterprise and healthy risk-taking in education, commerce, management, community and law. Six influential speakers will present their view of a society less successful if the government fails to take the lead in maintaining the important balance between risk and adventure.

The Campaign for Adventure maintains that, if the government fails to take this lead, protecting the vital spirit of adventure that exists in any healthy society, we can expect less value in our lives and less successful futures in commerce, science, art, ethics, spirituality, education, sport, crime and law, and this will directly influence our position on the world stage.

Libby Purves, outlines what the Campaign had achieved since its launch at the Royal Geographical Society three years ago when HRH the Duke of Edinburgh stated, "The greater danger is not that we take risks, it is that we do not take risks." Libby acknowledges the support of the six parliamentary sponsors of the presentation: Patsy Calton MP, Oliver Letwin MP, Chris Smith MP, Lord Chorley, Lord Rea of Eskdale and Baroness Joan Walmsley.

Professor David Hopkins, Director of the Standards and Effectiveness Unit at the Department for Education and Skills, speaking on 'Enterprise and Education in a Healthy Society', stated that he was committed to the goal of education being self-actualisation and empowerment. This, he says, is best achieved through the ability of learners to take control over their own learning processes. The Prime Minister spoke of the importance of implementing 'personalised learning' at his party conference this year. Professor Hopkins translates this in terms of the campaign objectives – giving the whole education system the opportunity to show that life is best approached in a spirit of exploration, adventure and enterprise; to influence and better inform attitudes towards risk; to build wider recognition that chance, unforeseen circumstances and uncertainty are inescapable features of life and that absolute safety is unachievable; and to demonstrate that sensible education and preparation enable an appropriate balance to be achieved between risk and safety, and extending well beyond the classroom.

Roy Amlot QC, Chair of the Bar Council from 2001 to 2002, opened by stating, "Adventure and risk are essential components of a healthy society.", He went on to say: "The law must be allowed to reflect society's need to allow these components to be fulfilled in a responsible way, without being stifled by litigation which is too restrictive. Much legislation, such as health and safety measures, threatens to be too restrictive. But it is the common law liability in negligence which needs the closest attention, because it is capable of shaping a culture which is too precious and likely to excite people into over-zealous litigation."

Dr Frank Furedi, sociologist at the University of Kent at Canterbury, referred to the arguments contained in his books Paranoid Parenting and The Culture of Fear. He makes clear that people are not realistic about risk and that this over-cautious attitude stifles learning, wholesome life-experiences and adversely affects the future safety of individuals who are unable to develop judgement.

Jane Buckley, recently retired Chair of the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services, stated, "Young people face a world of massive uncertainties and need educational experiences that help develop the qualities and resilience not just to handle this but to thrive on it." Referring to her new role as director of "Changemakers", a charity for young entrepreneurs, she said "Young people must cut their teeth on real social projects that mean something to them, where they are trusted and supported, not directed and falsely protected. Quoting Nicholas Negroponte, Jane concluded 'The future is not what older people think but what young people do'. Ataf Hussain Sabir, a young entrepreneur, spoke of the need to support young people undertaking social adventures in order to learn. Ataf, aged 17, a third-generation British-Pakistani, speaking on the importance of entrepreneurship, taking balanced risks, adventure and being young in the UK, has already had work exhibited in the Tate Modern and has spoken on Young People and Enterprise in the House of Commons.

René Carayol, speaker, columnist and broadcaster, whose major focus is on business transformation, spoke on management and leadership. He knows well that entrepreneurship "is great for the economy, which thrives on constant innovation and change." His talk "Managing a little less ..Leading a little more" can be well applied to government at all levels. He says, "Old world 'management' is beginning to collide with new-age leadership. This is not about traditional businesses being bad, and new economy businesses being good. It is about understanding why some organisations cannot escape the pull of the past. Their strategies tend to be built upon not wanting to lose. The real leaders' strategies are about winning. We need to sort out the important place of adventure in the business ethic, asking how to change old-fashioned risk-averse processes, ill-suited to emerging global markets, to secure and nurture the talents of a new generation of managers and staff, replacing cynicism and complacency with resolve."

The Campaign for Adventure holds that if nothing is done to countervail the ratchet effect of ever more demanding safety regulations and the steady growth of a blame culture with the resulting litigation, it is predictable that the national culture will only worsen, and society will be less healthy than it once was – restricting the enjoyment and richness of many aspects of life – including health, social, individual & family experiences, the arts, sport, science and commerce.

Roger Putnam, OBE, ex-director of Outward Bound School Eskdale, stated, "The right balance in the education of young people is especially important because that is where enduring attitudes form, where undue aversion to risk may be nurtured and where formative experiences that develop qualities such as courage, creativity, boldness and responsible risk-taking can best be provided. It is the culture of our whole society that needs changing, if enterprise is to truly flourish; there is much that Government can do, and can choose not to do, to influence that culture."

The event highlights the need for Government to do more to promote enterprise and adventure, encouraging Parliamentarians to endorse a sustainable 'enterprise and adventure agenda', particularly in the education and training of young people helping build a clearer view of the necessary balance between risk, enterprise and adventure in relation to safety and the 'precautionary principle'. The presentation concludes with a discussion of the actions parliamentarians need take to take to move the Campaign for Adventure forward – starting with why it is important for Government to take this lead.

Ian Lewis, Campaign Co-ordinator, stated, "The debate on what healthy adventuring in life is, and why, how and where it contributes to the evolution of our society [and humanity] has still to happen. It is towards ensuring that this debate happens and that a regular review of the healthy state of adventure in our society takes place, by government, that the Campaign for Adventure will now turn."

For further information contact: Ian Lewis FRSA Campaign Coordinator Mobile: 07802 423502 Office: 01392 272372 Email: ian@campaignforadventure.org

Campaign Management group: Randall Williams; Dr. K.B. Everard; Roger Orgill OBE; Roger Putnam OBE. Campaign Patron: Ray Mears