Connect

Community Southwark aims to help organisations connect with one another and to collaborate. This section detials how we think we have made a difference in this area. 

What we did

Community Southwark plays a pivotal role in providing the space, resources and information that allow organisations to connect with another. We do this in a number of ways, ranging from hosting networking events and conferences, through to providing an online database of organisations working in the borough.

Community Southwark has led on establishing a consortium of VCOs to develop a bid to the Mental Health commissioning programme. 

We held a number of forums and sub-groups to inform organisations about changes in social policy, funding programmes and ways of working. Areas covered have included personalisation, children’s safeguarding, affordable housing, localism and troubled families.  Across all the forums, over half of all attendees said their attendance was extremely important to their organisation

What organisations/groups thought

  • 64% of members agreed that Community Southwark has put  them in touch with organisations they didn’t know existed: developing VCS consortium of mental health providers to access local commissioning opportunities
  • 86% of stakeholders feel Community Southwark plays an important role facilitating increased collaboration within the VCS.
  • 74% of stakeholders agree that Community Southwark-hosted events are valuable because they enable me to engage meaningfully with the VCS.
  • 41% of Community Southwark members felt there aren't enough opportunities to get together and share with others; 66% of stakeholders felt that Community Southwark plays an important role helping VCS organisations/groups find suitable premises opportunities.
  • 44% of stakeholders agree that Community Southwark's reach into the entire VCS in Southwark is strong.

What impact did it have

What we didn’t measure is whether people feel better connected with others as a result of our work, and therefore collaborated more. Three quarters of Community Southwark members wanted us to support groups to collaborate more over the next 12 months, so the remainder of this section describes how we will approach this issue in the future. 

Over the last year we tried to run a collaboration support programme aimed at equipping organisations with the skills and abilities to collaborate better. This was not successful and had a low turnout. Only when we linked collaboration directly with a financial benefit was it successful. In this instance we took a more targeted approach that concentrated on specific areas of collaboration (such as social care) – setting up consortia in advance of contracts being released so that organisations were prepared for the change and had built up relationships. This was more successful in terms of attendance and interest.

However, we felt that this was coming at the topic of collaboration from the wrong perspective. Collaboration should be about the difference it makes to our beneficiaries. We know that the reality is that organisations are most interested in collaborating for income not impact. We understand this. However, we think that one of Community Southwark’s roles next year should be to really understand the real benefits of collaboration and the barriers to this so that we can make sure that our interventions deal with these barriers and also encourage collaboration only where there are benefits. We appreciate that providing opportunities for organisations to talk to one anther is important (because we think that this is definitely one barrier to collaboration). We won’t stop doing that but it has to be for a purpose and we think that that purpose is fostering collaboration so that the outcomes for users are improved.

​Case Examples

  1. Angela Woodley, Three Cs, describes Community Southwark's role in fostering greater collaboration amongst service providers which ultiamtely led to the formation of a consortia

Join the conversation below