Section A Process - Approach To Delivery
1. Local Partnership Group working
What we asked
We asked TSIs how well they thought their partnership approach has operated across the duration of Year 1 of the Fund, whether they had experienced partnership challenges and to note any improvements to partnership working for Year 2 of the Fund. TSIs were also asked to submit local partnership group plans.
Partnership working effectiveness
- 51.6% of TSIs noted that their partnership approach had operated ‘very well’ whilst 38.7% said it operated ‘well’.
- A large number of TSIs have drawn on pre-existing partnerships, such as CPPs, to oversee and implement the fund, with some citing benefits such as the use of existing statutory frameworks. Many TSIs noted that the collaboration on the Fund has strengthened those existing partnerships in the process.
- In terms of governance, many local partnerships established a steering group (or partnership workshop) and an assessment panel for the delivery of the Fund.
- In terms of the partners involved in the Fund, HSCPs were the most commonly cited, with several mentions of local authority and third sector partners (including national and anchor organisations), as well as CPPs. A smaller proportion of TSIs noted the involvement of those with lived experience within their partnership arrangements, with several reflecting on the need to improve in this area, particularly to achieve representation of the most marginalised groups in their area. Many TSIs reflected on a range of partners that they would like to add in Year 2 of the Fund.
- Many TSIs noted the strength of enthusiasm, cooperation and support across all partners in maximising the opportunities of the funding, despite the tight timescales of the Fund and heavy demands on some partners.
- A range of specific benefits from the partnership approach were cited:
- additional support in promoting the Fund leading to increased scope and accessibility
- improved awareness of HSCPs in terms of the innovative approaches and third sector practice at a localised level
- ensured allocation of funds aligned to strategic direction of the HSCP and local health/wellbeing priorities
- local authority involvement brought practical experience around due diligence and funding allocation
- improved relationships with third sector partners and people who use services and insight for partners into the local mental health and wellbeing challenges, as well as their own capacity to develop proposals
- one TSI has been asked to run a local council children and young people health and wellbeing fund in response to the positive partnership and delivery of the Fund.
- In terms of a useful tool to reflect on the partnership working, one TSI carried out a feedback survey with members of the partnership group, which found very strong agreement about the effectiveness of the partnership.
Planning group: The group met 3 times to agree the priorities, the partnership plan and the process, and have been provided further information as the project has continued and involved the health and social care partnership, the local council,, Police Scotland, Scottish Recovery Network, Making Recovery Real Partnership and those with lived experience.
Decision making panel: The panel met 4 times and involved: Public Health, Police Scotland, the local council, 3 members of community organisations and 1 Social Movement org with the voice of lived experience.
Partnership working challenges
- The majority of TSIs had experienced a challenge (58.1%).
- The vast majority of challenges noted were around time pressure and how this made the establishment of new partnerships and meaningful connections much more difficult to establish.
- The second most common response was the difficulty around the emergence of the Omicron variant, which made things more difficult, and certainly compounded the time issue.
- A small number of TSIs noted the lack of engagement or capacity of some partners, such as Health and Social Care Partnership leads or community networks, but this was rare.
Partnership working improvements for Year 2
- A common response was that people with lived experience will be more involved in the partnership group for year 2.
- Some TSIs noted that overlooked groups such as disability representatives will also be sought out for year 2.
- It was noted that short timescales for Year 1 had been a main challenge therefore the longer timeframe for delivering Year 2 of the Fund was highlighted as a way to improve the quality of partnership working. Further, it was noted that natural learning processes (given that the Fund was new) will feed into year 2 approaches.
We will be including primary care and health promotion representatives to the steering group and the new head of Mental Health and Learning Disabilities is keen to be involved. We would also like to ensure that lived experience is integral again, with some input from learning disabilities/autism on the panel.
Local Partnership Plans – effectiveness
As set out in the Fund guidance and grant letters, Third Sector Interfaces (TSIs) were asked to coordinate the production of a Fund Local Partnership Plan setting out local priorities for spend within the parameters of the fund criteria. The purpose of the Local Partnership Plans is to:
- Ensure coherence of approach locally.
- Tie into existing planning for mental health and community wellbeing.
- Provide a strategic approach to addressing identified priorities locally in line with fund criteria.
- Take account of current provision and address evidence on gaps in support.
- Agree a set of outcomes for community mental health and wellbeing support locally and identify the contribution the Fund will make to these.
TSIs were asked to submit local plans and summary template. Some reflections from the analysis of these plans is outlined below:
- Key aspects were set in place, including partnership working, governance arrangements and progress on delivery of the Fund.
- The plans identified the local priorities, which were very much in line with the Fund priorities set out in the national guidance, and there was excellent use of existing literature and strategies shown across the board regarding decision making.
- Given the early stage at which they were asked to report, plans were strategic in nature, focusing on the aims, approach to implementation and anticipated coverage.
- The plans show some good practice in terms of lived experience engagement in the Fund – including early consultation and inclusion in some partnership arrangements. However, many TSIs acknowledged a need to improve this area and that it would be easier with more time.
- While there was some variation in approaches to the delivery of the Fund, on the whole, there was a high level of consistency in approach. This may be informed by the direction provided in the fund guidance and the high level of communication between TSIs and the practice sharing that has been enabled through the TSIs and fund networks. Where particularly good innovation exists, we sought to draw this out through interim and end year reports as well as though the national Network.
- As expected, the short timescales involved in the delivery of the Fund in this Financial Year were raised as an issue, particular in relation to a range of risks such as allocating spend, ensuring access to target groups and so on.
2. TSI fund management - effectiveness and risk assessment
What we asked
We asked partnerships about the effectiveness of their fund management arrangements, any difficulties they have experienced and ideas for how to improve their approach. TSIs were asked to identify any risks to delivery in their local partnership plan and were also asked if they arose in practice and how these were dealt with.
Fund management effectiveness
- 100% of partnerships rated their fund management as either very effective (61.3%) or effective (38.7%) which is very encouraging, as fund management is a key operational indicator.
- Some TSIs also pointed to feedback they have had from applicants on the effectiveness of their fund guidance and forms – for example one TSI reported that over 90% of applicants had rated it “excellent”.
- Many TSIs pointed to the strength of their in-house or adopted online system, giving ease of access to the process. One said that:
We developed an in-house grant management system which is a cloud-based enterprise level database system which allows applications to be done online, applicants can start/resume/share the application with colleagues, they get sent a copy when they submit it, they can withdraw it, they can also log in at any time to see exactly where their application is in the process - with dates and times of when certain stages are completed.
Difficulties administering the fund
- When asked whether they had experienced any difficulties administering the fund, 71% said no and a corresponding 29% said yes.
- Of the small number (9) of respondents who faced a challenge, time was the most common issue. Other issues included willingness of the local Integrated Joint Board to take part, technical errors, and a rolling application process resulting in an overwhelming number of applications.
- The types of risks identified were wide ranging in nature, from Covid uncertainties to potential conflict of interests between applicants and partnerships, as well as risks relating to short timescales involved in the Fund.
- A clear theme however was TSIs mitigating risks ahead of time if they did threaten to come to fruition. For example, several TSIs found pragmatic ways to address potential conflicts of interest if they arose.
- A large number of TSIs had pre identified potential risks that did not arise
- Time limitation, being the most common risk, was dealt with admirably but due to its nature as a risk, caused the most issues.
We identified that COVID related restrictions may emerge and this proved to be correct just before Christmas. We extended our application deadline until after Christmas, January 7th, and allowed a limited number of applications through after this deadline where COVID was explained as a factor in their late submission.
The risk we identified was potential conflict of interest in the decision making panel given that members could equally be applicants or have an interest in a particular application. As this risk was identified at the outset we required all panel members to complete a conflict of interest form prior to taking part in the panel. This was therefore understood by all at the outset and the panel member was asked to leave the room when that particular application was being discussed. All panel sessions were facilitated by the same facilitator and were minuted. This risk was therefore managed successfully and seamlessly as part of the process.
3. How the TSI capacity buildinggrant has been used
What we asked
Partnerships were asked how they have utilised the additional capacity building grant they received to manage/administer the Fund and what additional value this has provided in successfully implementing the Fund locally.
- A significant number of the partnerships reported that they used some or most of the additional capacity building grant to increase their staffing capacity, enabling them to manage and administer the Fund.
- Use of the grant include creating and recruiting staff to a new post, increasing staff hours and seconding or redeploying staff from other duties – with roles varying from administrative and support roles to fund management roles and roles focussed on mental health and wellbeing.
- TSIs provided ample evidence that a dedicated post was very beneficial to the Fund being run. Direct help with monitoring and administration for projects was a common use of the grant.
- Two partnerships used some of the additional money to employ external consultants to assist with the process and evaluations.
- Other uses include – purchasing software and computer hardware to assist in managing applications, promoting the fund locally and in supporting meetings, consultations and events.
- Several partnerships reported using the additional capacity building grant to support training and capacity building for community groups and organisations – including training, support and advice.
- One partnership used part of the capacity building grant to establish a small fund to offer support to small organisations to participate in the process.
- TSIs have been looking for improvements in Year 2, such as being more proactive in reaching rural groups, and how the capacity building grant can support this.
- The following examples illustrate how the grant has been used:
A number of organisations will have improved governance arrangements, awareness of key risks, direct invitations to learning events and various capacity building improvements as a direct result of this Fund - regardless of the outcome of their application.
The grant has been used in multiple ways. Just over half has been used to support more capacity at the local grassroots level around support for groups in preparation for and following feedback from the panel - this has worked really well with new groups engaging in TSI support. A further amount was used to support the digital promotion and engagement necessary across the region to deliver the changes to the website, webinars and online application process.
4. Improving accessibility - support provided to applicants
What we asked
TSIs were asked to explain what support they have provided to Fund applicants (particularly those with less experience) to ensure they can apply for funding.
- Capacity building has emerged as a strength of the Fund. There is clear evidence of all TSIs providing a wide and comprehensive range of support, guidance and assistance to applicants to the Fund – particularly those applicants with less experience of applying and those in more vulnerable groups. The support provided covers both the pre-application stage and post-application, for both successful and unsuccessful applicants.
- The type of support offered by TSIs often included awareness raising campaigns, clear written guidance, one-to-one support, information sessions, group sessions, guidance videos, web based guidance, courses and training and tailored assistance for groups who are new to applying for funds or who found the process challenging. Innovation was shown, such as creating a project application network, linking un-constituted groups to constituted groups, and using online forums.
- TSIs reported evidence of supported groups being able to successfully submit applications and undertake projects when they would not have done so without support, a clear indication of capacity building success.
- Other more basic supports included help on governance, budgeting, banking, monitoring and evaluation, and community engagement.
- In many cases the level of support provided in respect of the Fund has extended beyond the usual level of support provided by the TSI, enabling many community groups and organisations to access support and develop activities – expanding capacity in the community.
- Example of support:
For very inexperienced applicants, we have offered a ‘light touch’ micro-grant with a simplified request form that encourages them to begin to structure their idea more effectively and respond to the types of questions that funders would normally ask.
In addition to offers of support from the Community and Voluntary Action team at Engage, we are also developing a network for funded organisations to learn from one another. This will take the form of formal network meetings quarterly, we held our first on the 1st March, and an online forum for members to discuss developments, share resources and support one another in between formal meetings.
In one case, an organisation’s original application was rejected after only scoring 34% in the assessment process. After support, their resubmission scored 77% and received funding.
Over the course of Year 1 we have conducted in excess of 75 individual 1:1 conversations by phone and email to discuss people’s proposals in more detail.
5. Action on equalities and reaching target groups
What we asked
TSIs were asked what actions they have taken to reach target groups and what action the TSIs and the funded organisations have taken to ensure equalities considerations. TSIs were also asked to provide a view on how successful their own actions had been in reaching target groups.
Actions taken to reach target groups and consider equality issues
- Targeted action was taken by some TSIs, with proactive communication such as a targeted mailing list and support of identified organisations seeming to bring success.
- Ensuring application forms, guidance and processes did not introduce any inadvertent barriers.
- Producing a gap analysis the geographic spread and equality group ‘coverage’ to inform decisions.
- Pro-actively seeking applications from particular groups if these had not been received such as with tenants on a Gypsy/Traveller site.
- Prioritising and scoring applications in line with target groups – one partnership allocated 25% of funding to ‘inclusion and diversity’ and 25% to ‘wellbeing impact’ for organisations that reach priority groups.
- Ensuring assessment panels had equalities experience.
- Working with specialist equalities organisations and trusted local projects to seek advice, plan their approach to working with particular groups, and support them before and after applying for funds.
- Providing capacity building support and guidance (i.e. Race Equality Toolkit) for applicants and requiring successful them to attend equality and diversity training.
- Requiring applicants to demonstrate how they would monitor progress.
- Constant checking of target numbers was also seen as important, for example checking an online application system weekly for numbers, and adjusting communications proactivity accordingly.
- Regarding equalities considerations, consistent themes included early guidance and evaluation criteria for project applications that stressed tackling inequalities, to ensure equality was a key feature of projects down the line.
- The equalities requirements being placed on small and larger grant applicants were proportionate, with more onus being placed on larger bids.
Our guidance was clear that projects needed to take inequalities, as an impact from the covid pandemic, into account in the design of their projects. Where the assessment panel felt there was a potential issue regarding equalities, specific conditions were included in the grant offer paperwork
We have worked with other local action groups to meet their needs – i.e a local development trust that work with the gypsy community through the pandemic. Discussion with the tenants of the camp happened and an organisation already providing some services within the camp were approached to see if they could provide some additional work to meet the needs.
Although there was widespread effort among TSIs to reach target groups and address equality, some were more successful than others. It is important to note here that each TSI faces different challenges.
TSI views on effectiveness of their actions to reach target groups
- 54.8% of TSIs said that their actions had been very successful. None said ‘not at all’.
- TSIs that were less confident in their success pointed to lack of time as a factor in limiting the proactive work required to reach some target groups.
- They also pointed to the fact that some groups simply did not make up a high proportion of applications. This mirrors wider issues in lack of support for overlooked target groups, and is not unique to the Fund. It should be acknowledged that some areas have significant variations in demographics and infrastructure, and so each TSI faces different circumstances. It is difficult for TSIs and ScotGov to strike a balance between accepting the applicant landscape (i.e how many groups there are that could apply in an area) with how ambitious to be in pushing for increasing applications from certain groups.
- TSIs that considered their actions successful highlighted a local landscape that may have already been made up of known target group partners, or have a communication strategy that allowed the Fund to be promoted to target groups.
- Some TSIs have already begun improving approaches ahead of year 2.
6. Engaging those with lived experience
What we asked
TSIs were asked whether the Local Partnership Groups have involved those with lived experience in the delivery of the Fund and to provide a few examples of the ways in which the projects they are funding intend to engage those with lived experience in their work.
Actions of local partnership groups
- 80% of TSIs noted that they had involved those with lived experience in their implementation of the fund. Different approaches included:
- Engaging local, user-led, lived experience or advocacy organisations and groups – such as CAPS, Glasgow and Clyde Mental Health Network, Fife's Lived Experience Team (LET), the Scottish Recovery Network, Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER), Mental Health and Wellbeing Project and Ayrshire Recovery College – in either steering groups or the local partnership or in planning events.
- Involving individuals who have lived experience - either as a user of mental health services or as a carer of someone who uses mental health services - in steering groups, local partnerships or decision making panels.
- Involving staff members within the local partnership group who have their own lived experience of these issues.
- Some of the partnerships reported holding co-production events or facilitating workshops and consultation events, “to define the parameters and priorities” for the Fund locally.
We have really enjoyed this element of the Fund so far and we feel that it is an area of strength and good practice. We have worked alongside Health in Mind and CAPS Collective Advocacy to ensure that we had people with lived experience on both our recent decision-making panels.
- A number of partnerships fully embraced involving the voices of lived experience in informing local priorities of the fund and in the process of awarding grants from the Fund to local initiatives.
We delivered co-production activities with people with lived experience to define the parameters and priorities of the Fund, to ascertain gaps in provision, to identify what has worked well in the past, identify barriers to participation and identify outcomes they would like to see the fund achieve.
Others referred to the short and demanding timescale of this year’s Fund as an issue in being able to engage more fully with those with lived experience.
Lived experience in funded organisations
- Several partnerships reported grants being awarded to initiatives where peer support – using lived experience as a positive attribute to support others experiencing similar challenges - is a significant feature in the proposal.
- A number of groups or organisations supported by the Fund are ‘user-led’ – devised, run, delivered or managed by people with lived experience.
Deaflinks is a peer led organisation with 80% of the Board made up of people with lived experience. The Board works to deliver services in response to the needs identified by those in their community who they support. Co-production is clearly a keystone of project planning and delivery for the organisation and feedback is sought throughout the planning, delivery and end of a service/project.
Shetland Pride’s LGBTQ Reach Out Mental Health Project - The need for this project have been ascertained by enquiries from the local LGBTQ community that indicates there is an underlying need to reach out to the wider community.
Advocacy Orkney will ensure that service users are included in the design and delivery of their own advocacy. Transition North Ronaldsay have worked closely with local residents to design and plan the Community Garden and determine the requirements for the shed.
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