Component 1: Building relationships

What works well

  • ‘Strong, robust relationships’ is the first thing that people cite when asked ‘what helped you succeed?’ in developing voluntary sector partnerships. This sounds simple, but when time and resources are tight, building relationships in a meaningful way is often overlooked.
  • People tell us that it is important to connect with colleagues outside of formal decision-making processes as well as within.
  • It is important to develop a culture and practice that enables relationships to build within the strategic decision-making landscape, creating shared experience on a personal and professional level. This can be particularly relevant where partners are based in different offices or different sectors making informal relationship-building more challenging.

Likely positive impacts

When time is allowed for robust relationships to develop we see several positive impacts.

  • Quick response – People are more likely to prioritise answering the request of someone they have a connection with, leading to faster action.
  • Increased opportunities – When people can share experiences outside of the formal agenda, we see new innovative and creative problem-solving taking place, including better sharing of resources and greater impacts for people. Barriers are more easily overcome.
  • Trust developed – People start to develop more of a shared understanding of each other’s role in making that a reality. It enables a ‘one team’ approach to a shared agenda rather than working in ‘sector silos’.

Example: Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire Voluntary Sector Engagement Team

Public sector colleagues perceive the sector as varied and complex, and difficult to navigate. Therefore, the Voluntary Sector Engagement Team (VET) was established to bring together various organisations and networks to fully understand what each organisation does and how the sector might achieve a cohesive and defined purpose in partnership with the emerging integrated care system (ICS). They wanted the sector to have a clearer voice and be a partner in the decision-making and delivery of health and care services in Lincolnshire.

VET formulated three key asks:

  1. Agreed process to discuss the VET MoU with the statutory sector
  2. Consideration of how to ensure VET is engaged with the statutory sector in taking the Long-Term Local Plan forward
  3. Financial Support for VET – to match the contributions made from within the voluntary sector.

Successes so far

  • VET online info portal collaboratively developed
  • Chair and Deputy Chair of VET have been invited to the Joint Working Executive Group (JWEG)
  • VET asked to coproduce ICS Workforce development toolkit
  • Stronger ongoing partnership between sectors

Read the full case study on NCVO Knowhow