Partnership is in our DNA - together we are stronger

Last week I was in Birmingham with our friends Acorns Children’s Hospices welcoming our new funders BCBN (Better Community Business Network) to one of Acorns’ three hospices to talk about our brand new partnership.

As anyone who has ever heard me speak will know, partnership is in TimeBank’s DNA - it’s part of our fundamental belief that together we are stronger. Partnership working is such an important part of our ethos simply because we believe that working with organisations that have different skills and knowledge makes our projects stronger and more impactful and enables us to offer greater support to our beneficiaries.

Our partnerships start in many different ways – we may have an idea and seek out a partner who is expert in the field where we think our volunteer mentoring model might work or sometimes we are approached by organisations wanting to set up a mentoring programme. In this instance it was a chance meeting at an event between myself and the CEO of Acorns, David Strudley – a conversation about our respective organisations that sparked an idea in both our heads that we might just have a new way to use our mentoring model – working with young people with life limiting illnesses who are transitioning from children’s to adult services. 

Like any new partnership, in any context, the early stages are fraught with anxiety - will this work, do we share the same values, is it long term? And perhaps more specifically to charity partnerships, can we fund it?! And that is where BCBN came in. Our starting point with any new idea is proof of concept. We start with the belief that the best programmes are co-designed with the full participation of the potential beneficiaries and stakeholders. And so we wanted to design our mentoring programme with Acorns staff, former and current clients of Acorns and their parents/carers, starting with the assumption that those receiving services have the best idea of what that service should look like. This not only makes the best projects but the evidence also convinces funders of the true worth of what we are doing and makes it more likely to receive funding long term.

BCBN kindly granted us vital seed funding to run these focus groups which we’ll be starting in November. So the partnership has officially begun and we’ll keep you posted as the project develops.