The Shropshire Infrastructure Partnership team have provided Open Harmony with a significant amount of support and guidance to help us to grow and to have as big an impact as possible on our community. Their services has helped us in five main ways:
Stronger organisational governance
Working with Duncan, we have established a more robust governance structure in the form of a community member-led Steering Committee. Duncan met with the team to explain the process and benefits and helped kickstart the formation of this valuable group, which helps with the running of Open Harmony operations and makes us formally accountable to the communities we serve
Obtaining more grant funding for our core and project work through improved communication and evaluation
Since January 2022 through to March 2023, Carole has given us guidance for obtaining funding from 6 grant funds worth a total of £44,715k (not including a 7th substantial grant fund for which we await the outcome). Thanks, in no small part, to her input we were awarded £27,222 from 4 of the 6 funds: a success rate of 67% and a financial return of 61%. This is a fantastic outcome, particularly given the competitive environment and paucity of funding situation that we are in right now, and it has meant we can continue to deliver our services and boost our impact in the community over this 15 month period and beyond. Carole helps, not only in helping us communicate and demonstrate our social impact, but she has positively influenced the way we evaluate our services to make it more authentic and comprehensive. Most compelling was her advice to record the testimonials of people who have not attempted suicide due to Open Harmony’s services, and to use these powerful accounts to build evidence of our part in preventing such tragic and serious incidents
Training staff and volunteers
The team, led by Alli, has provided no less than 8 training courses for 1 member of staff and 4 of our volunteers, covering good practice in Directorship, volunteer management, safeguarding, policies and procedures, among others. These have been valuable to the whole team to ensure our governance, management and safeguarding practices are effective
Connections to other helpful organisations and resources
Carole and Duncan provide many introductions and links to other organisations that can help Open Harmony, from other community groups doing similar work to resources for marketing and media. One example is the awareness of the winter energy grant, which proved an absolute lifeline in the midst of the energy & cost of living crisis, and a direct benefit to one of OH’s volunteers. Furthermore, for a small organisation, the cumulative effect of these connections and resources save much time and effort, and also greatly enhance partnership working across Shropshire.
Support and guidance for the team
Last but not least, it has been invaluable having a well connected, knowledgeable and, above all, supportive, team nearby who are available to meet with us, who understand our mission and worth, and help us deliver the best we can to our community who is in great need of our support
Should the SIP team not have supported us in this way, we would not be providing the same level of impact we do today so we look forward to continuing this key strategic partnership well into the future.
Open Harmony CIC