Partnership Working after COVID 19
11/09/2020 (Staff Post - Stuart Miller )
In times of diminishing resources and funding, the third sector usually goes to that fall-back position of “we must look at partnership working, pulling resources together and collaborating!” But does that actually happen? While looking through various tips* on how to work in partnership on a funding search website, it is amazing how many of these may well not be followed, or might be carried out, but with little enthusiasm. The definition of partnership working is-
“A process in which two or more organisations or groups work together to achieve a common goal, and do so in such a way that they achieve more effective outcomes than by working separately. This involves the sharing of skills and resources in a climate of mutual. understanding, trust and respect!” (*Beneficiaries at heart of any collaboration, agree a vision, appropriate structure in place, get the governance right, leadership is required, common values, mutual respect)
Be truthful, how many of you looked at that statement and thought “oh that is pretty good!” and then the next thought was… “aye but in reality that will never work!” Covid-19 has shown us that we do need to work together. We cannot win this battle by ourselves. The first priority must always be the people we are here to support and help. What happens after covid-19? The problems and issues will still be there, but what will the voluntary sector look like? Will organisations be able to open, can we still run activities from the usual places. Will there be any funding to apply for? All this and more means that we must find different ways to go about our business. Coming together to work with others in a meaningful way should be the starting point.
During this summer Linstone Housing Association approached Engage Renfrewshire asking for our support with raising awareness and the distribution of funding to voluntary sector organisations. This funding came from Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities Fund (SCF). Its aim, to support and assist third sector anchor organisations to get much needed funding and resources into communities at most risk because of covid-19. We agreed, and right away started to define specific roles and responsibilities, agreed on who would lead, when we would meet and our expectations of each other. There was also a very tight time scale to get the funding out to groups. This timeline ensured that we worked as effectively and efficiently as we could to make sure no funding had to be handed back to the Scottish Government. So we knew when the partnership would start, how long it would last and an understanding of what we wanted to achieve.
How did it work out?
“Working with the local TSI Engage Renfrewshire has been such a positive experience. They recognised our strength as a community anchor and encouraged us to make the SCF application. In turn, they have brought their robust knowledge of local organisations to the table. Our combined knowledge has created a formidable partnership. “We have always seen it as ‘tenants are the community, and the community are all potential tenants’ so we serve the wider community anyway, and continued to do this with the SCF funding.” (Linstone Housing Association)
One unforeseen outcome was how a number of those who applied and were successful were accepting of working with others. While reviewing the applications, it became very apparent that some were carrying out projects that seemed similar or could perhaps work together to keep down costs. For example a few groups asked for funding to cover the costs of running vans while delivering items to those in isolation. We contacted all of them and mentioned that they were all asking for the same thing, and that there could be an opportunity for one group to apply for the van costs and the others would able to put that funding to something else. It cut down on possible duplication, but was also more beneficial environmentally, as only one van was carrying out all the deliveries.
For more information on partnership working please go to:-