Former chancellor hails industry at charity luncheon

Darryl Danielli
Friday, November 25, 2022

The Printing Charity’s Annual Lunch returned after a three-year hiatus yesterday, where the charity’s president, former chancellor George Osborne, hailed the importance of print.

Osborne: confident and excited about this industry
Osborne: confident and excited about this industry

Speaking in front of more than 150 guests he quipped that the stunning surroundings of London’s Stationers’ Hall, which hosted the event, was the perfect place to celebrate “the new age of austerity”, Osborne also detailed the “centrality of print to our lives and to society”.

He used his address at the 193rd luncheon to share how he felt that much of his career had been lived in print, either in headlines as a politician or, more recently, as a newspaper editor.

He said it was the latter experience that exposed him to the challenges facing the broader industry, notably the “enormous strains and challenges” imposed by digital communications and social media on print, which he described as a “once thriving and profitable industry”.

However, despite the challenges he added he remained confident in the industry had a bright future.

“The fundamental thing that everyone in this room does is take human thoughts and ideas, love of design… you translate and you make possible to communicate those ideas, thoughts and hopes and you do it with brilliant clarity and incredible imagination.”

“So I’m really confident and excited about this industry and about the world we live in… and I wish you a successful future.”

He reminded those present that while it’s tempting to think we’re living through a period of “unique change” the reality is that we should all be “more optimistic about our ability to handle change”.

He also acknowledged that while periods of enormous change can be unsettling, organisations like The Printing Charity were there to help.

This was echoed by the charity’s chairman Jon Wright, who spoke about how the industry had evolved since the last Luncheon.

“It’s hard to comprehend just how much has happened in the past three years.”

He drew comparisons with some of the changes the charity has undergone in recent years, describing it as “intense period of refocus” that in some senses was a return to its founding principals and from which it “had emerged even stronger”.

“The Printing Charity was formed in 1827 by a group of printers who wanting to help their employees – a simple endeavour rooted in compassion,” said Wright.

“Moving the clock on nearly 200 years, we have the same focus… the way we do it may have changed, but our purpose hasn’t.”

As well as the charity’s sheltered retirement accommodation, which supports up to 100 people across two locations, he highlighted some of the charity’s modern-day flagship initiatives, such as the Rising Star Awards, which this year gave one-off grants to just over 50 young people to develop their careers. He added that the target this year was to issue nearer 100 grants.

Wright also spoke about the Charity’s 24/7 helpline “a truly amazing achievement”. The Helpline has offered practical and emotional support since its launch in 2019 and is now available to close to 20,000 employees across more than 200 companies that have signed up to use it.

He closed his speech with a call to action: “If you know of companies in your network who you think would benefit from our support, we’d love to hear from you as we want to help more business and their people.”

For more information on the Helpline, visit www.theprintingcharity.org.uk/our-helpline

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