Partnerships & Development

The women’s voluntary sector has a vital role to play in public service delivery; ensuring services are developed  and delivered in a way that women both want and need. In recent years reduced funding opportunities, an increase in demand for women’s services and the shift from public sector grant giving to commissioning has had a profound impact on smaller, specialist women’s services.

The process of commissioning services via competitive tendering has meant women’s organisations are competing against each other and often against larger, generic national and private sector providers. For smaller, specialist organisations this is a huge challenge as resources are not so readily available to engage with complex and lengthy commissioning processes. The Women’s Commissioning Support Unit (WCSU) is a 3 year pilot project funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation to improve and develop the strategic and delivery capacity of the women’s voluntary sector. The WCSU concentrates its work in and around Cambridgeshire, North-East, West-Midlands and Greater Manchester focusing on those organisations working in the areas of criminal justice, violence against women and girls, women’s health and employment and education.

What is the Women’s Support Commissioning Unit?

The Women’s Commissioning Support Unit (WCSU) is a 3 year pilot project funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation to improve and develop the strategic and delivery capacity of the women’s voluntary sector. The WCSU concentrates its work in and around Cambridgeshire, North-East, West-Midlands and Greater Manchester focusing on those organisations working in the areas of criminal justice, violence against women and girls, women’s health and employment and education.

The WCSU will enable organisations to engage with commissioning opportunities by:

  • Building the capability and capacity of local organisations
  • Exploring different approaches to specialist women’s organisations by working in partnership together
  • Evaluating regional differences, structures and circumstances that enable success
  • Developing stronger relationships with local commissioners

The project will:

  • Provide a series of workshops, training and resources on key subjects: developing partnerships and consortia; pricing, costing and financial planning; legal consequences of contracting; commissioning, procurement and challenging bad practice; bid writing and presentation skills; impact assessment for consortia working.
  • Develop a range of interactive online tools and resources; policies and procedures around service delivery, self-assessment tools, templates, sample pre-qualification questionnaires and tenders, partnership agreements, interactive blogs, podcasts etc.
  • Work to support and facilitate the development of networks, partnerships and consortia within the women’s sector by holding events and regional workshops as well as identifying potential contracting opportunities
  • Offer one to one support
  • Increase commissioner’s understanding and recognition of the role and value of specialist women’s organisations
  • Communicate examples of good practice and shared learning, develop case studies and models of successful consortia working
  • Complete an independent evaluation of the project assessing the impact of the WCSU

For more information about the Women’s Support Commissioning Unit please email zoe@wrc.org.uk.

WRC continues to identify emerging need via our vast network of organisations. WRC continues to grow and sustain the work of partnerships, champion the work of small specialist organisations and highlight the issues which disproportionately impact women organisations and their beneficiaries.’ Dionne Nelson, WRC Deputy Chief Executive

The Team – WCSU consists of 4 regional co-ordinators working in each of the four regions – North East, Greater Manchester, Cambridgeshire and the West-Midlands, two administration and management staff and four Associates.

Online Tools and Resources – To help provide additional support and resources for developing partnerships and consortia, there are a number of additional online tools and resources available.

WSCU Films –  WCSU are producing a series of films covering the working areas of WCSU which are criminal justice, violence against women and girls, women’s health and employment and education across the four locations, Greater Manchester, Cambridgeshire, West-Midlands and the North West.

Blog – The series of blogs have been developed by WCSU members as well as by others who have experience working in and developing partnerships. Blog posts cover a range of topics and provide an opportunity to discuss and learn from each other working in partnership.

The team

WCSU consists of 4 regional co-ordinators working in each of the four regions – North East, Greater Manchester, Cambridgeshire and the West-Midlands, two administration and management staff and four Associates.

Regional Coordinators

Each regional coordinator champions the WCSU support providing one-to-one and group support, assess and respond to capacity building requirements, broker relationships, problem solve and hold the overall picture for the region. Initially, coordinators’ work involved outreach and relationship building but has now transitioned into to supporting the formal establishment of consortia an development commissioner relationships. Regional coordinators work collaboratively to share tools, resources and best practice to ensure learnings are shared and support is provided effectively and efficiently.

Sue Robson North East:

So far WCSU has provided one-to-one support, facilitated workshops, trainings and networking surgeries, developed templates and tools and submitted funding bids. With support of WCSU, 15 women’s organisations have also formed an informal partnership operating across Durham, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear called Women’s First. This partnership’s focus is on holistic approaches to Learning and Counselling Services.

Katy Taylor – Cambridge and Peterborough:

So far WCSU has provided one-to-one support and facilitated workshops and trainings. Eight women’s organisations have formed the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Women’s Consortium with support of WCSU.

Geraldine Esdaille – Greater Manchester:

So far WCSU has provided one-to-one support, facilitated workshops and trainings and developed templates and tools. With support of WCSU, the GMFFA Consortium was developed and support is being provided to small and specialist BME organisations to also form a partnership.

Maureen MansfieldWest Midlands:

So far WCSU has provided one-to-one support, facilitated workshops and trainings, developed templates and tools and submitted funding bids. With the support of WCSU, a partnership of six women’s organisations, the Women’s Justice Partnership was revived.

Associates

Associates deliver specialist skills training and input as required.

Kathleen MossFinance Planning

Kathy, providing training and support around finance, particularly managing finance in Consortia and partnerships. The course is geared towards applying practical knowledge necessary in relating recognised financial concepts for financial decision making in consortium and improved understanding of allocating joint costs with multi-purpose activities being comfortable developing and monitoring financial progress against a consortium budget. The course is developed to make better use of different financial formulas, such as, cost allocation, activity-based costing systems, joint costs and break even analysis.

Yvonne Prendergast – Social value

Yvonne provides training and support around social value and change. Social value means wider social, economic and environment benefits to the community beyond the primary purpose of the service being procured. Building-in social value can lead to a wide range of benefits, for example creating training opportunities; linking marginalised women with service provision; enabling women to achieve their economic potential; and enabling local authorities to engage with diverse women. This course is designed to enable you to identify how your organisation / project delivers social value and how you can demonstrate this in order to strengthen your position when bidding to deliver services.

Helen Cylwik – Bid writing

Helen provides training and support around bid writing and presentation. The gradual shift from public sector grants to contracts and the more recent reduction in commissioner numbers are having an adverse impact on specialist women’s services. The size and complexity of competitive procurement processes and increasingly larger value contracts are squeezing out smaller organisations. This course is designed to demystify the procurement process and provide you with the tools you need to improve your success in writing bids and winning tenders.

Sarah Clement – Gender Equality and Analysis

Sarah provides training and support around gender equality and analysis. This workshop is designed to support you to use a gender analytical approach in developing project proposals with consortia partners. The course will explore how to develop and implement a gender analysis approach to promoting gender equality and advancing women’s economic and social inclusion. It will cover some of the opportunities to promote gender equality e.g. through the Public Sector Equality Duty. The course will explore a range of approaches to gender analysis, drawing out good practice and positive actions that have improved gender equality and delivered good outcomes for girls and women.

Administrative and Management Support

Dionne NelsonHead of Business Development & Innovation

Is responsible for the work of WCSU managing the entire project whilst additionally providing support to each of the coordinators.

Zoe Kennedy Development Assistant

Provides administrative support to all coordinators and associates in organising trainings and ensuring electronic resources are available and accessible to women’s organisations.

Films

WCSU are producing a series of films covering the working areas of WCSU, criminal justice, violence against women and girls, women’s health and employment and education across the four locations, Greater Manchester, Cambridgeshire, West-Midlands and the North West.

The films draw together the issues facing the women’s sector demonstrating the bigger picture of the changing landscape and the impact these changes are having on women’s organisations. In particular, the films demonstrate the valuable skills and support WCSU provide partnerships and women’s organisations to deal with and manage the challenges that are currently facing the sector.

The films show the need for and importance of collaboration and cooperation as well as the value of the support provided by WCSU regional coordinators providing resources, training opportunities and developing formal processes within partnerships, including the practicalities of managing relationships, learning to trust and work together in partnership and the complex and interconnected relationship between organisations and the services they provide. The films also note the bigger and broader context in which women’s organisation operate within, including austerity, commissioning and the movement towards competitive tender processes.

There will be 6 films on this page – what template is best for this section. A default landing full width with a video gallery for the six films and each film then is a pop up to watch the film. The films don’t have much content so don’t need their own page unlike the Women Speak Out films.

Blogs

The series of blogs have been developed by WCSU members as well as by others who have experience working in and developing partnerships. Blog posts cover a range of topics and provide an opportunity to discuss and learn from each other about the positives of working in partnership as well as how to manage difficulties.

To date, blog posts have covered:

  • The value of working together to form a stronger women’s sector
  • The importance of Trustee involvement in the development and operation of partnerships
  • What you can do to promote gender equality

They want the functionality of a comments section – lets discuss. There are only five blog posts at present although they have ambitions for more. These will need to be moderated by Zoe.

Online tools and resources

To help provide additional support and resources for developing partnerships and consortia, there are a number of additional online tools and resources available. These tools include:

  • Guidance on policies and procedures
  • Self-assessment tools
  • Templates
  • factsheets
  • Available trainings
  • Regional specific learnings and information