Why working together is better than going it alone – Humankind

Why working together is better than going it alone

Helen Deeson

Humankind has always worked in partnership to deliver exceptional services to local people. Our partnerships have allowed Humankind to provide great services across the North of England, including in the North East, North West and Yorkshire and Humberside. These include partnerships with NHS Trusts, charities small and large, community interest companies and service user led organisations. In recent years, we have grown our service profile and range by over twenty percent as a result.

In the last year we have moved from being a Northern charity to becoming a national charity, to have a greater impact and to support local delivery in the following ways:

  1. To work more collaboratively with other regional providers so that our services can continue to offer tailored approaches to the different areas in which we work.
  2. To have a stronger national voice and influence policy through a national presence, including across London.
  3. To continue to develop housing, work and skills, and a range of health and social care services that help vulnerable people to live independently.

Significant cuts in funding have jeopardised lots of charities ability to independently pursue their missions, and have risked their very survival. In addition, a procurement-led market has not encouraged partnerships and has placed a greater value on size and infrastructure rather than local integration and delivery. Of course, there are exceptions to this, and we are proud to have developed thriving partnerships across the areas we work.

We believe it’s critically important that we collaborate with our partners across the areas where we work and support each other in this period of unprecedented budget cuts and chaotic funding arrangements. We need to survive and thrive so that we can continue to fulfil our mission, and to preserve the knowledge, experience and connectivity we all have with the local communities we serve.

Sometimes, when we have worked closely with our partners, this can lead to an alignment of culture, values and mission, meaning that we can think about the possibility of merging. We know there are a lot of pressures on smaller organisations meaning it can be hard to pursue their mission independently, and coming together can help us to cater for local needs with the backing of a wider organisation. It is always important, when thinking through the benefits and costs of this approach for us to have the people we serve front and centre in our minds. One of our aims, is to protect and extend the services which our merger partners deliver, and I am proud that our recent relationships demonstrate this really strongly.

In April last year we merged with London-based Blenheim CDP, allowing both organisations to have a greater impact and advocate and influence on behalf of our beneficiaries on a national level. Over time, it will allow our charity to invest more in service development and delivery, and to learn from each other to improve our services. The Good Merger Index has identified the Blenheim CDP and Humankind merger as the second largest in 2018/19. The report recognised it as an example of a brave, strategic merger, where both organisations are in good shape but felt that coming together would better meet the needs of our beneficiaries.

We are delighted that EDP will be joining us in April 2020. This follows many years of working together and a strong alignment of values and purpose. In this merger, EDP will remain as a subsidiary so that Humankind can support its independence as a regional provider and expert in delivering services in the South West. Simultaneously, we will expand our impact and influence.

Anyone who has worked in partnership knows that it can be hard work and takes effort! It can bring together important skills, expertise and ways of working which complement one another too. We live in a diverse society, and it’s important to cater for different local needs using a blended approach; this could be working in partnership, sharing back office functions, or merging organisations. Tolerance, respect and honouring the history, culture and expertise of each other are some of the fundamentals of our approach, and have stood us in good stead over the last few years.

We very much look forward to the Humankind family developing further.

Paul Townsley, CEO