Why Partnership Working is Essential
Things are tough right now. We’ve been through a lot these last few years, collectively and as individuals.
We find ourselves in a post-lockdown era, with less money, and resource issues all around. A cost of living crisis and a world dominated by online living, affecting us and our friends and family.
There is less to go around, financially, physically, and socially. Sharing the burden and the issues we see and feel helps. A lot. One way of doing this in a work environment is partnership working.
I am Ange, the Partnership Manager for Sheffield for the Violence Reduction Unit. I believe in good, open partnership working, and making sure we enjoy it along the way. I’m on loan from Sheffield City Council where I have been lucky enough to have worked with lots of communities and groups across Sheffield for the last 16 years. I’ve helped a number of local communities create and run community spaces, introduced the first apprenticeship horticultural scheme on the Manor, and helped organise a multi-school sports day at Woodbourn Road. Great fun, including a space hopper race.
In South Yorkshire, we are good at partnership working. Coming together and helping each other out, our neighbours, our neighbourhood, our towns and cities.
We have one of the best, no, THE best community, voluntary, and faith sector infrastructures in England. Long standing and well respected with a rich history of coming up with innovative and brilliant ideas to solve community issues.
Bring the big guys, the statutory sector, into the mix with their wealth of expertise and bigger resources and you can go places. IF it’s that way around. Start with the community to identify an issue or need they want to see, then bring in others to help solve it. Go at their pace, mostly this means speeding up for the big organisations but sometimes it’s slowing it down, allowing a community to think and reset when original ideas don’t go to plan. And listen. Please listen, and then listen some more, and talk to some more people.
We have different views and that’s ok
You won’t get the agreement of everyone, you will be challenged! People have different views, and opinions. That is life and it’s ok. We all have different experiences that we have lived through that make us unique and give us our values and views in life. Some call this lived experience. We all have it. For me personally, I’ve recently realised that growing up on Lowedges in a Council maisonette and playing football as a girl helped me to understand some of the issues I come across in my partnership and community role working for the VRU.
The more variety and different life experiences you can get in a room (real or virtual) the more your partnership working will thrive.
Try it next time you plan an event or meeting. Invite your usual people then widen your invite list. Go and find more people. Try using a wider geographical area to contact, widen your themes or subject area, find those experts, ask more people with lived experience of the thing you want to hear about and talk about, people you’ve never met but you might want to hear from once, or again and again. Good luck.