Rydale Carers Support
Ryedale Carers Support (RCS) started in 1991 as a project of Ryedale Voluntary Action and registered as an independent charity nine years later. It provides practical and emotional support for carers, the people they care for and older people living on their own, relieving social isolation and often getting involved at times of stress or change due to illness or bereavement. A sitting service provides respite for carers and a change for the person being cared for; a visiting service provides company for older people living alone with few social contacts; Songs and Scones provides an afternoon of musical entertainment in partnership with Live Music Now; and carers support groups offer the opportunity to share concerns and simply relax.
In 2015 North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) made a decision to reduce the number of contracts it managed and asked that Ryedale Carers Support work in partnership with Caring Together Whitby (CTW) and Support for Carers Scarborough (SFCS), with Ryedale Carers Support the lead charity in this partnership. NYCC also announced the introduction of a tendering system, adding additional funding vulnerability to the charities involved.
Claire Hall, RCS Manager, contacted The Cranfield Trust at the suggestion of the Lloyds Bank Foundation, from whom the charity had received a grant as part of their Enhance programme. Claire recognised that the three organisations needed to review their current structures before agreeing the best way forward and was matched with Cranfield Trust volunteer Lesley-Anne Young who quickly took on board the full extent of the situation.
After a series of meetings to familiarise herself with the individual charities within the partnership, Lesley-Anne began by facilitating a staff / trustee away day, as Claire explained:
“Three questions were asked at the away day: Where do we want the partnership to be in 3 – 5 years’ time? How do we get there? Who do we want to help and how do we help them? This created the basis of a SWOT analysis which formed the building blocks for a business plan. Furthermore, by working together the trustees from the different organisations developed a greater understanding and mutual respect for each other and this can only have a very positive effect.”
However, it became apparent that the partnership operates across a large geographical area with only part-time staff, which didn’t give much space for strategic thinking and planning for the future. It needed to become stronger and more resilient to external challenges. Lesley-Anne therefore helped Claire to consider a new decision-making structure which would be financially and structurally sustainable, ensuring a steady supply of new volunteers able to deliver the 1:1 support at the core of RCS’s work. Claire reported:
“The partnership has agreed to:
- set up a steering group made up of representatives from each charity
- look at appointing a manager/chief officer with overall responsibility for the partnership with two co-ordinators in each locality who will be responsible for delivering the service.
- look at appointing a member of staff with a particular remit for marketing and volunteer recruitment across the partnership.
This should ensure a quicker more efficient chain of command but with continued autonomy in service delivery in each area, so that clients still receive a high quality service that fits their needs.”
These decisions were pivotal in helping the development of the partnership between the three organisations and together they were able to develop a joint business plan, with Lesley-Anne’s help. This in turn led to a successful funding bid for £154,000 per year for two years from North Yorkshire County Council, leaving the charities’ organisational capacity strengthened and the partnership in a strong position to be ready for the next tender in 2018.
Clearly the role of an external mentor was of great benefit to the partnership, and Claire was impressed by the way in which Lesley-Anne was able to take on board the various issues at stake, guiding those involved towards a successful conclusion:
“We were worried that the volunteer would come in and tell us how to do our strategic and business planning. Instead she listened and teased out of us what we wanted to do, making helpful suggestions.”
Shortly after the completion of the project, RCS received further good news when they were honoured with the Queens Award for Voluntary Service, one of only three groups in North Yorkshire to do so. It was clearly well deserved, and Lesley-Anne summed up Claire’s leadership role at the end of the project, saying:
“In my experience it is always great working with Cranfield projects. I really did enjoy working with Claire and think her very positive and forward thinking attitude is a great boon for the partnership.”