Partnership working is central to how the women’s sector now operates. From 2015 to October 2018, WRC ran the Women’s Commissioning Support Unit, a pilot project funded by Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. The project developed the strategic and delivery capacity of the women’s voluntary sector by establishing regional partnerships of women’s organisations in Greater Manchester, the North East, Cambridgeshire and the West Midlands.

The WSCU project generated a total of £1,453,076 for the organisations involved in the partnership.

North East

20 women’s organisations based in the North East formed Women First.

The partnership has two purposes – to co-ordinate and expand women and girl’s support services through collaboration, innovation and enterprise, and for members to become more resilient and able to respond effectively to tender and funding opportunities through partnership and collaboration.

The partnership offers holistic and integrated counselling and listening services that help women to care for their families, stay in work and return to work after sickness

This partnership was formally launched in May 2018 and was facilitated by Sue Robson.

Greater Manchester 

16 BME women’s organisations from Oldham and adjacent locations formed the Mama Health and Poverty Partnership, which focuses on eradicating health inequalities and poverty faced by BME women. 

This partnership was facilitated by Dionne Nelson ([email protected]), who also managed the WCSU project as a whole.

West Midlands

5 women’s organisations formed the Women’s Justice Partnership, which aims to support women who have been involved in the criminal justice system.

In 2017 the WJP, with Birmingham Cross City Clinical Commissioning Group as lead, won £663,076 from the Violence Against Women and Girls Transformation Fund to run the ASSIST (Assessment, Support, Signposting, Intervention, Safeguarding & Trauma) project. This project aims to improve the support available for women with complex needs in the West Midlands.


The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Women’s Consortium (CPWC) is made up of seven independent, community-based specialist women-led organisations: Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre, Cambridge Women’s Aid, Cambridge Women’s Resources Centre, One Voice for Travellers, Peterborough Rape Crisis Care Group, Peterborough Women’s Aid and Turtle Dove Cambridge. The Consortium is currently comprised of independent organisations led by and for women or by and for Roma, Gypsy and Traveller women.

CPWC members specialise in and have long-standing track records of working with some of the most vulnerable members of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s communities, including young women excluded or at risk of exclusion as a result of not being in employment education or training, offending behaviour, engagement in prostitution, and/or experience of abuse.

Through working in partnership, CPWC are seeking to establish joint data, research and information to evidence the need for women and girls’ services and to ensure accessible support and prevention services for all women, young women and girls across the recently co-joined commissioning region of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

CPWC officially launched on 28th December 2017 at a well-attended event that brought together service providers, commissioners, third and statutory sector practitioners.

WCSU Blogs

These blogs, written by members of the WCSU team, provide information and support for partnership working in the women’s sector. This section also contains interviews with the associates who administer training for the project, describing the training that they deliver and giving feedback on training sessions with the regional partnerships.

Why Doesn't Commissioning Work for the Women's Sector?

Stronger Together in the Women's Sector

The Crisis of Commissioning

Holding the Line for Specialists

Trustees' Checklist for Partnership Working