Partnerships: Happy to take a back-seat if we get the right outcome

By on 09/03/2016 in Blog, Cllr Hamilton, News, Partnerships

With partnership working growing in importance, Cabinet member for Health and Social Care, Cllr Paulette Hamilton, looks at a new project that sees Birmingham City Council working with two charities to feed Birmingham’s homeless.

You’ve probably seen and heard a lot from Birmingham City Council in recent months about the growing importance of partnerships.

Leader of the council, Cllr John Clancy has made clear his determination to ‘do things with the city’ not ‘to the city’ and a major part of our Future Council work stresses the importance of working with organisations, communities, charities, businesses and individuals across Birmingham.

Cllr Clancy has made it very clear that it’s not enough to just talk about partnerships – we have to deliver them. And I think there are plenty of examples popping-up across the city. Some projects are in the early planning stages while others are starting to bear fruit.

Take for example a new initiative I recently visited which sees Birmingham City Council joining forces with two city charities to help improve the lives of hundreds of homeless people. Three nights every week, Sikh charity Midland Langar Seva Society (MLSS) is now offering a hot meal service for homeless people from the Digbeth headquarters of SIFA Fireside.

The new service has been launched because MLSS were offering an evening meal service on the streets of Birmingham at a time when SIFA’s premises were not in use. Now the two have come together and the early signs are that the service will be a big success.

And the city council role? We’ve funded the pilot project, helped to bring the two organisations together and played a part in the planning. Basically we’ve been in the background – not the usual role for the city council but one I’m sure we will be playing for more often in future.

But what’s the problem? I feel it’s more important than ever that we enable others. In the past the council would have tried to deliver this project themselves but we’re now working far better with our partners. Of course this is partly out of necessity – we have a lot less money than we did in the past – but it’s not just that. We’re now enabling others but we’re also in the middle as the gel to ensure it happens.

What matters is the outcome. The people enjoying a hot meal in the warmth of SIFA Fireside do not really care whose name is attached to the service, their only concern is that the new service offers much-needed help.

When I visited SIFA I was really impressed by the welcoming atmosphere, by the organisation and by the way MLSS and SIFA were working together to help people in real need.

This is a partnership that works and one that I hope we can build on. Once demand is assessed we hope to bring in more partners. City Council services like Reach Out Recovery, which offers treatment and recovery services to support anyone experiencing difficulties with drugs and/or alcohol. Housing and crisis support, mental health support and more.

So good partnerships can lead onto more good partnerships and I have no doubt that many future projects will see the city council taking a back-seat.

That’s fine by me.

Let’s stay focussed on outcomes – not the role we play.

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