Bristol in Partnership

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Bristol in Partnership (formerly known as the Bristol Compact)

A set of principles to support and underpin the Bristol VCSE sector’s work together, and with others

Bristol in Partnership January 2019

Bristol’s Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector (VCSE) is increasingly diverse and has a long history of working with others to make outstanding contributions to Bristol. VCSE organisations work alongside the public sector and businesses to create thousands of jobs, provide skills development, bring funds into the city and provide positive, social outcomes for people, communities and the environment. Bristol in Partnership aims to build on the strengths of the former Bristol Compact to describe the relationships the sector wishes to build and maintain. It comes from a fundamental premise: that the sector is more effective when it works well together, and with partners in other sectors. Over many years, Bristol’s VCSE organisations have developed effective relationships, delivering with great results. However, sometimes things do not work as well as planned, and relationships can stall or fail. As the city changes, so do relationships. Bristol in Partnership states the VCSE sector’s intention to work together and with others to towards clear, shared goals and objectives, and aims to make all relationships as productive as possible. 2

Note: Hereafter, the use of ‘we’ and ‘our’ in this document represents VCSE organisations in relationships with others in the sector, and with public and private sector partners.

Bristol in Partnership states our intention to work well together towards clear, shared goals and objectives, and aims to make our relationships as productive as possible.

One City

Key Principles

Everything we do as partners is done to benefit Bristol, its people and communities. The best impacts for the people and communities can only be achieved by positive and collaborative working relationships.



We are accountable in different ways and act with transparency, respect and integrity. Our relationships are built on mutual understanding, cooperation and an appreciation of our differences.

It is only through open communication that strong partnerships can be built and maintained. Direct and honest discussions should be the basis for our relationship.



Our environment is rapidly changing, so our partnerships and relationships are flexible and aspirational - within the boundaries of what it is possible to achieve.

We value a mixed economy, where we all work together to bring change and choice though a wide range of voices and community actions.


Unlocking Potential

We make better decisions and provide better services when we challenge each other. We are critical friends, giving and taking constructive criticism to benefit the city.

By developing our strengths and focusing on what we can do, we will deliver change that is built around people and communities and leaves no untapped potential. 3

Our Themes The following themes are recognised as especially relevant to Bristol. Under each theme, our commitment to practical actions contributes to effective partnership working.

1. Using the City’s Resources to Effectively Deliver Impact Resources are allocated through different processes. In the public sector, commissioning, grant and contracting/sub-contracting processes are commonly used. This happens in the context of Public Contracts Regulations 2015, the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012.

Commissioning • Use the principles of intelligent commissioning . • Provide advance notice of opportunities to allow the best market response. • Choose the most appropriate purchasing mechanism - for example, negotiated dialogue, competitive grants, tendered contracts, reserved contracts, framework agreement/dynamic purchasing system - based on the nature of the service and composition (size, type and diversity) of the provider market. • Foster collaboration by allowing sufficient time for organisations to work together. • Make sure full cost recovery is used in the allocation of resources. • Insist on balance between the need for accountability and proportionate monitoring and evaluation. • Be clear about intellectual property and avoid ‘bid candy’ (when larger organisations use smaller organisations’ bids and ideas, without giving them credit or benefit) by using written agreements signed by all parties in advance. • Ensure maximum social value through constructive, early discussion; recognise 4

that social value has many forms. • Establish effective engagement with service users within commissioning cycles and planning stages. • Be clear about commitments made, trust that these will be honoured and ensure that any challenge about concerns is honest, respectful and proportionate. Collaborations • Recognise that collaborations and partnerships take different forms – these are welcome expressions of diversity.

organisations have different needs, • Work together to evaluate processes and considerations and offers. improve systems and skills. • Make sure smaller/equalities organisations • Be clear about leadership and different are actively and respectfully involved. roles in collaborations and partnerships. • Share and make best use of resources, • Work towards sustainability (which is better for service provision and service including best practice, premises, skills users) with multi-year arrangements, if and processes. possible, and robust business planning. • Collaborate to provide a city response to • Consider payment pre-expenditure to funding opportunities. ease pressure on smaller organisations. • Design processes to include smaller Fostering Market Diversity organisations and use resources more • Understand that smaller/equalities efficiently.

2. Engaging and Consulting Working together – by engaging, consulting and communicating – helps us design and deliver the best solutions for Bristol, its people and communities. • Recognise smaller/equalities organisations are connected and can facilitate the voices and inclusion of under-represented and disadvantaged groups. • Be clear about the rationale for engaging and consulting and recognise that both are used in decision making processes. • Be clear about what can and cannot change in each consultation. • Maximise participation by using a variety of accessible approaches (for example, events, written communications, online or focus groups) depending on the consultation target group and • understandings of how best to engage with them. • • Recognise that some participation may be better enabled through longer consultation periods (up to 12 weeks) and targeted activities.

Build on what is already known and avoid duplication. At the end of an engagement or consultation process, consider the responses, summarise the feedback received and describe any changes. 5

3. Volunteering and Social Action Volunteering can include formal activity undertaken through public, private and voluntary organisations, as well as informal community participation and social action. Everyone has the right to volunteer and it can have significant benefits for individuals. People volunteer for many different reasons: perhaps to develop skills or gain experience, to socialise, or to give something back to society. • Acknowledge the cost and value of • Volunteering is a choice freely made by volunteer contributions and social action each individual. and social value. • Volunteering should be open to all and accessible – support may be required for • Recognise that volunteers are motivated to give their time, energy and skills some to participate. because they gain social involvement, • Recognise that effective and safe skills development, experience, a sense volunteering may require support, of contribution or enjoyment. training and the payment of out-of-pocket expenses.

4. Managing Change Change is natural, and effective management of change helps us to do things respectfully and to minimise impact, particularly on service users. To effectively manage this, we must work together to:

• Handle changes to services, policies and strategies. •

• •


• Insist that a minimum of three months’ notice and a clear rationale must be provided when changes are needed or Ensure that the impact of any changes on a financial relationship (for example, a service users, employees and partners grant, contract or sub-contract) needs to are considered before deciding to end or end. adjust funding. • Recognise that new ways of working may Guarantee that any changes are involve risk and can require flexibility and implemented respectfully and legally with extra support. minimal impact. • Be clear about the leadership and Communicate openly and regularly and governance roles in service delivery and give suitable notice of change. performance improvement. Discuss, agree, implement and monitor a timetable of actions to improve performance if a programme or service is encountering problems.

How do we know Bristol in Partnership is working? Bristol in Partnership applies in relationships between organisations and between individuals representing organisations. Sometimes disagreements and disputes arise in relationships. We recognise that these may be damaging and it is our aim that early, constructive discussions between parties allows solutions to be found. In some cases, where it has not been possible to resolve a dispute in a timely and satisfactory way, a formal complaint may go through an organisation’s complaints procedure. Advice and support in resolving disputes may be available through Voscur ( 7

Photo credit: diamond geezer CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Bristol in Partnership








Voscur, Royal Oak House, Royal Oak Avenue, Bristol, BS1 4GB Voscur is a registered charity and a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee.  Company no. 3918210.  Charity no. 1148403


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