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Support Staffordshire's Chief Executive Introduces New Model of Working

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Thu 23 Jun 2016

As many of our members will already be aware, Support Staffordshire has been consulting you on how we deliver services in the future. Following a series of focus groups and our online survey – prize draw winners announced below – we can now let you know the outcome.

Firstly, thank you for taking part and we are pleased to hear that overall our members understand the need for our services to change and modernise.

You strongly welcomed our commitment to offer 4 hours free support to all members; including preparation time and follow up work. This is irrespective of what your organisation does and is not primarily funded by any one investor, including the county council. We have repeatedly emphasized our strong recommendation that organisations use this free support in order to gain an overarching view of where their organisation is at and what ‘in the round’ are its most pressing development needs. In this context we aim to produce an action plan with you which will signpost you to lots of free advice, factsheets and self-led support; we will never sell you things you simply don’t need! It was therefore really encouraging to see in our survey that ‘planning for the future’ came third as your priority for support.

In addition to this we will continue to offer our urgent support helpline, accessible Mon-Fri, 9am-4pm, via 0300 777 1207, to any group that has urgent legal, HR, health and safety, governance, financial or other issues. Or if you just need reassurance that a crisis can be managed.

There was general acceptance of the need to place a value on our services and to charge for them. I will say more below about what this means in the context of our new county council relationship and investment. Overall the sorts of pricing we have proposed have been considered fair. However, in order to take this further and based on your feedback, we have taken the further step of introducing tiered charging for one-to-one and consultancy support; based on your ability to pay. This means that smaller organisations (under £100k turnover) will pay less than medium sized organisations (up to £500k), and they will pay less than larger ones (over £500k).

Second placed in the results came networking and partnership opportunities, which reinforces our decision to continue to offer Locality Forums, in every district/borough with completely free and open access. We also hope and plan to extend this reach into Newcastle-under-Lyme once we have discussed this with the existing Newcastle forum. And of course we will now be working even more closely with South Staffordshire CVA to ensure complete countywide coverage.

Unsurprisingly and top of the list, came income generation opportunities, with 88% of respondents wanting more and better help in this area. Importantly, trends are shifting with crowdfunding, social enterprise development and community fundraising featuring more prominently than in the past. Increasing Staffordshire’s share of charitable funding or giving is also high on the county council’s priorities so we plan to bring you more opportunities here over next few years.

Governance, Legal Issues, Marketing and Volunteer Management all also featured strongly in your feedback with a majority of the respondents wanting more and better support in these subjects. We will be developing more detailed services to respond to your needs over the coming weeks and months, so look out in future E-news for new training, workshops and peer-support networks becoming available. Importantly our independently accredited Volunteer Centre Services remain free to all members and are just £50 for associates from the public sectors – offering easily accessible volunteer matching and brokerage across the county.

So, from 1 July we will be applying this new model of working, which means that you’ll be asked about membership, we will check on your level of free support remaining and we will quote you for any additional one-to-one support, consultancy, training or related work.

But what about the county council (or other) funding, I hear you cry?! Quite right, and here it starts to get less straightforward than our historical offer. But don’t panic, our Locality Officers will guide you through it. They will look with you at the sort of outcomes and beneficiaries you aim to work with and wherever possible they will match your ideas to those of our funders. Where there is a match, they will usually then be able to offer you a package of additional free (or subsidised) support including more one-to-one time. We also plan to offer some free and subsidised training and workshops based around our investors’ priorities but tailored to your needs.

For the county council investment, remember this won’t start until the early autumn; but we also receive investment to help groups in Lichfield, Cannock, Stafford and Staffordshire Moorlands right now, and we are in discussion about future investments in Tamworth and Newcastle. In South Staffordshire you should contact SSCVA. And if none of these apply, we can use your 4 hours free to identify funding opportunities that include organisational development, training or similar kinds of support in their offer (such as Big Lottery Reaching Communities). And as for pricing, rather than bombard you any further here, talk to your Locality Officer; we will never charge you before talking through a tailored plan with you first and all quotes are of course free and no-obligation.

I appreciate these changes may make some members feel nervous, but rest assured our ultimate aims and our values have not changed and we will do everything possible to continue to support you at affordable levels and in a workable manner. Your ongoing feedback is of course invaluable and I hope to see many colleagues again soon, as well as meet more of our growing new membership.

And the prize-draw winners are…

  • Borderland Voices
  • West Chadsmoor Family Centre
  • Meeting Point
  • Konnektiv Arts
  • Lichfield Friendship Centre

Garry Jones, Chief Executive