BUSINESS people who want to make their voice heard on the national and international stage will be able to share their ideas at this week's Thrive forum.

Thrive is playing host to The Centre for Social Justice, CSJ, a Westminster-based organisation that focuses on listening to and championing effective grass roots poverty-fighting throughout Britain.

The session this Thursday, May 29th will welcome Orlando Fraser, Chairman of CSJ's Voluntary Sector Working Party and Juliette Ash, Director of the CSJ Alliance network of voluntary organisations.

CSJ, an independent think tank, was set up in 2004 by former Conservative Party leader the Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith. It believes that the most effective policy to tackle poverty in Britain today is to listen to the hundreds of voluntary sector organisations who are doing just that already and share these ideas with government and senior politicians at national level.

The organisation has undertaken wide-ranging research under the theme, Breakthrough Britain, including one comprehensive document that focuses solely on Birmingham.

Orlando chaired the group that published in July 2007 a document about the Third Sector, looking at the potential and challenges of the voluntary sector, that made a swathe of policy recommendations to the Conservative Party.

These include:

* Fresh growth in charitable giving which the report states have 'stalled' in the UK and are 'pathetic', representing less than one per cent of pre-tax profits

* A rise in volunteering especially among charities tackling poverty and communities suffering from social exclusion

* Less polarisation of the Third sector where a small number of large charities dominate

Juliette said: "We are constantly looking at ways to engage businesses willing to engage with the Third Sector and helping to facilitate the link between different groups.

"It is a chance to discuss policies and to show how the voluntary sector can be part of the solution to problems with proper funding and support."

The report, available in pdf format on the CSJ website, states: "In recent years, Britain has become materially more prosperous. However increased wealth has not been accompanied by improvements in the levels of many social problems." It continues: "Yet around the country there are countless examples of these and other social pathologies being successfully tackled, often by the voluntary - or third sector. The sector includes small community groups, social enterprises and large national charities."

It concludes: "Innovative social entrepreneurs and grassroots projects need to be trusted and equipped to find new solutions to these intractable problems. It can be done."

Nick Venning, a driving force behind Thrive, hopes the forum audience will share ideas.

He said: "Whilst the world naturally focusses on poverty in the developing regions and how this accentuates the vulnerability of these communities to recent natural disasters, poverty is far from unknown in the UK. In 2005/06, about 22 per cent of people in Britai - that's some 13 million people - lived below the official low income threshold of 60 per cent of average household income often used to define poverty. This of course masks the extreme depths of this problem in our truly disadvantaged communities; the elderly, chronically ill, disabled, long-term unemployed, serial penal offenders, certain ethnic minorities and so on are often in far more disadvantaged situations. However, this is one of the richest nations on earth. We can, and in many cases are, able to do something about it. There are some fantastic examples of social entrepreneurship but the problem is that this effort is patchy and unpublicised. The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) is not a conventional Westminster lobby group but an organisation that focuses on listening to and championing effective grass roots poverty-fighting throughout Britain."

See the website at The forum starts at 6pm and is being hosted by Ernst & Young at 1 Colmore Square, Birmingham.