In this blog, Graeme McLearie, Business Connector Co-ordinator for North East, Yorkshire & the Humber and East Anglia, shares the story of a positive collaboration between the Cranfield Trust and Business in the Community.

The Cranfield Trust and Business in the Community have worked together to successfully support the charity Beacon South Yorkshire Carer Support. The collaboration came about after Beacon South Yorkshire Carer Support struggled financially and was due to imminently close. The support from both organisations has now enabled the charity to turn itself around and become financially viable with the ability to support itself for the next 3 years. Barnsley Beacon is now able to continue its valuable work in the community to support the carers of drug and alcohol users - most of whom do it on an entirely voluntary basis.

Supporting the charity and ensuring its financial viability

Gillian Andrews became the first Business Connector in Barnsley, seconded from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to work with Beacon South Yorkshire Carer Support. As part of her initial evaluation of the charity’s challenges she realised that there were urgent operational and financial issues to address. In 2016 Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council decided to terminate a range of contracts with smaller providers and put out one large contract out to tender covering all drug and alcohol services from April 2017. Barnsley Beacon was not in a position to bid for this large contract. Gillian then contacted the Cranfield Trust, a charity which supports other charities by providing pro-bono business support to help.

Cranfield Trust provided the right expertise and solutions provider

The Cranfield Trust had been exploring ways of supporting Barnsley Beacon since 2016. Sue Hall, Regional Projects Manager with the Trust, met with Lynda McDermott, the Funding and Services manager to explore the challenges, funding gaps and lack of business expertise to ensure it’s future viability. It was agreed that the Cranfield Trust would find a volunteer business consultant who would work with Lynda and the Trustees to design and price a package of services with the initial aim of trying to gain a sub-contract from the future service provider and explore further revenue opportunities.

The areas supported ranged from website design, branding and CRM

The Business in the Community Business Connector facilitated a range of projects to help support the charity from the redesign of the website and organisational branding through to IT support. In addition, a grant was awarded through dialogue with the Warburton’s Foundation. This was used to cover the cost of a new laptop to help facilitate job searches for carers through the creation of a database of clients.

Laying the foundations for a sustainable future

Cranfield Trust’s volunteer business consultant Nick Bussey started working with the board of charity in early 2017 on developing a future strategy that would see the Barnsley Beacon market its unique services on a consultancy basis in other parts of South Yorkshire to generate income. He helped secure a Big Lottery Awards for All for £10k grant towards rebranding and the development of consultancy materials. This also supported the plan to market the Beacon’s ‘Stepping Stones’ and ‘Next Steps’ programmes to other agencies – including those working with carers of people with dementia. Nick also secured a £15k grant from the Lloyds Bank Foundation Enable programme to support organisational development and the provision of services in other parts of South Yorkshire.

Finally, the Business in the Community Business Connector supported the charity in successfully securing a further £36k per year for 3 years through the Duke of York’s Community Initiative. She also became a trustee of the charity and helped recruit more trustees to strengthen the Board.

Beacon South Yorkshire Carer Support spokesperson Lynda McDermott said: ‘It has been a pleasure to work with The Cranfield Trust and I mean that sincerely. Nick has been extremely helpful throughout and has a wealth of knowledge which he has brought to the table. With his support the organisation has secured funding to transform and move forward and have a future vision.’

Volunteer Business Consultant Nick Bussey commented on ‘how much the people involved had grown in confidence and competence’ as they went along ‘a journey of development and change’.

Beacon South Yorkshire Carer Support

Registered Charity No: 800072 | Scottish Charity No: SCO40299 | Company No: 2290789 | Telephone No: 01794 830338
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