Collaborations towards system change: The role of community partnerships

Strong partnerships are a key ingredient of any successful project or organisation. Its members benefit from shared resources, best practice and mutual support, and many of the most impactful interventions involve unlikely and innovative alliances across areas or sectors.

Increasingly so and especially over the past years, there has been a shift in the VCS (voluntary and community sector) towards community-led partnership working and strategic local alliances to collectively serve community needs. The National Lottery Foundation’s Partnership Fund has invested over 35 million pounds into nearly 150 such partnerships across the UK, local government contracts are often focused on collaborative approaches and finally the pandemic has taught us that structural challenges ask for united responses on the ground.

But how do you even begin to establish community partnerships? Who do you involve and how do you create functioning decision-making structures across a range of organisations? What are the risks and how can these partnerships be sustainable long-term? What role does power play in all of this?

In this workshop, we will explore the fundamentals of partnership work in the community sector. You will discuss initial processes for set-up and governance as well as clear mechanisms to ensure that community voice remains centred at the heart of any collaboration. We will look into potential pitfalls and sustainability and will share a range of inspiring, practical partnership examples from across the UK youth and community sector.

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  • Exploration of the fundamentals of partnership work in the community sector
  • Discussion of the initial processes for set-up and governance as well as clear mechanisms to ensure that community voice remains centred at the heart of any collaboration
  • A look at the potential pitfalls and sustainability
  • A range of inspiring, practical partnership examples from across the UK youth and community sector.

  • Understanding of the impact and potential of partnership working in the community sector
  • Steps to set up partnership governance
  • Tools to mitigate risk and think strategically about power sharing
  • Practical examples of successful partnerships across the UK youth and community sector.

  • Practitioners in the community sector, charities, and community business
  • Practitioners within local government and councils
  • Anyone interested in the impact of partnership working

Stephanie Gamauf works for High Trees Community Development Trust in London.

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