In 2014 Community Catalysts and Community Action Southwark (CAS) successfully applied to Southwark Council for Innovation Grant funding to deliver a community micro-enterprise development partnership project in Southwark.
Community Catalysts recruited Claudia Gould to coordinate the project and when in October 2015 she moved on to pastures new I took up the role. A key aspect of the positive partnership between Community Catalysts and CAS is that both Claudia and I have been integrated into the CAS development team in their office in Southwark.
This co-location has meant that I am easily able to access information about Southwark generally and about the voluntary and community sector more specifically for example CCG plans for new commissioning models that will impact on community micro-enterprises once finalised. It also enables me to identify useful projects to engage in and helps me to keep community micro-enterprises informed so that they are prepared and are able to take up opportunities. For example, I am planning to help community micro-enterprises engage with the forthcoming social care market by running tailored workshops on topics such as consortium working.
Another benefit of the partnership is my ability to draw on the specialist expertise of CAS staff and for them to draw on mine and that of Community Catalysts. For example CAS expertise on organisational development; volunteer management and corporate relations and Community Catalysts expertise on social care and personalisation.
As well as having access to help and advice from Community Catalysts, community micro-enterprises can also access free one to one advice, support and training from CAS. To make the most of all these resources (and ensure neither organisation is duplicating the work of the other) I see what support CAS has provided to an individual community micro-enterprise and then tailor my advice and support to fill gaps.
Community micro-enterprises are able to participate in a number of groups and forums that CAS organise. I am also able to engage with CAS projects that could be of benefit to community micro-enterprises. In particular, the Communities Action Network (CAN) which is designed to support people who want to get more involved in their community. Some of these people may want to develop a community micro-enterprise with a care or wellbeing focus or use the online CAN resource to give their service greater local exposure.
On reflection the partnership between CAS and Community Catalysts has already resulted in positive outcomes that add value to the activity of both organisations. I am hopeful that as the project progresses we will be able to build on this even further – making the very best of scarce and decreasing resources in a time of real austerity for everyone involved in community development activity
Southwark Community Catalyst