by Kirsty Weaving, 18 May 2020
We are living in unprecedented times. COVID-19 is changing the way we shop, exercise, work, and live. As a result, partnership working is more important than ever. Partnership working allows us to look after the most vulnerable in society and can come in many forms and combinations; so whether it be charities, schools, families or businesses, it’s all about working together! You are probably partnership working without even realising!
These partnership links are now forming our community support networks, partly because the network of people we can reach for help has become smaller. This means local charities are receiving more requests for help, partnership working allows us to share this load and work most effectively.
Warm and Well works in partnership with numerous charities, including Age UK, Sirona Care and Health, local authorities, and Community Interest Companies (CICs) like the Juice project. I work for Warm and Well’s partner charity Caring for Communities and People (CCP). Our partnership works with the joint aim of helping to support those in fuel poverty.
CCP is a local charity who work directly with the most vulnerable in Gloucestershire, providing them with much needed extra support to improve their lives. They have a significant number of clients affected by fuel poverty who, due to partnership working, can be referred to Warm and Well’s Energy Advocate. This person can offer home visits and drop-ins within Cheltenham First Stop and can talk to you about all things energy!
If you think you could benefit from some help from our Energy Advocate, please email our energy inbox in Gloucestershire via energyservice(at)ccp.org.uk. The service is also available in South Gloucestershire – thanks to a partnership with Sirona Care and Health – and mikee(at)severnwye.org.uk is the address you need. Energy Advocates can arrange a call to talk through any concerns or queries you might have.
So, what makes the perfect partnership? Here are three top tips for successful partnership working.
The dreaded interview question - communication skills! Communication skills are so important that employers judge you on them, so how can we maintain good communication in partnership working? The key ingredients of effective communication include cohesion, clarity, respect, listening, empathy and open-mindedness. Communication also benefits from being regular. A regular catch-up allows you to know what’s happening with your partners and vice versa, building understanding and new ways of working. Effective communication skills can spark some really exciting ideas, for example, each partner may work slightly differently, so communicating these differences can open up new possibilities.
Improving communication between partners can help to create positive relationships where both partners are working towards mutually agreed goals. If nobody in the team knows what you want to achieve, then it’s difficult for you to get there. For example, CCP and Warm and Well have together set up a direct referral line. This means the person in need or social prescriber does not have to call our general line to make a referral or receive help. Instead, our advocate will receive the referral and contact the person directly. Maybe you want to run joint events or just pool resources? All these can be achieved by having shared goals, which brings us on to…
Successful partnerships are all about information sharing. Sharing knowledge can help successful collaborations happen, spark new ideas, and allow individuals to share their expertise. Information sharing also allows partnerships to aid each other, like the partnership between CCP and Warm and Well. Our Energy Advocate may visit people who they feel could benefit from being referred to CCP and similarly, CCP staff may meet people in fuel poverty who may benefit from the knowledge of our Energy Advocate. Beneficial for everybody involved! Perhaps you could participate in information sharing by sharing this blog, or jotting down the Warm and Well number and giving it to someone who may benefit from a chat with us.
Today, the use of technology is central to successful partnership working, particularly during current times where face to face contact is not possible. Many of us have had to become familiar with video calling, and it can be interesting to have an insight into the lives of your colleagues! Video conferencing applications mean usual team meetings can still go ahead and training can be completed, meaning partners can still expand their knowledge and learn whilst at home. Technology also allows successful partnerships to form even if geographically both partners are far away from each other. No matter how scary the world of technology may be – embrace the change and commit to finding all ways you can to make the partnership work!
Remember: the best partnerships are those where both partners feel equally valued.
If you’d like to work with our Advocate or our Warm and Well service contact Melissa on melissas(at)severnwye.org.uk