Third Sector Secondments

To improve understanding between 3rd and public sector through staff secondments

Linkedinpic Submitted by Nicola Wilson
Public Service Launchpad
How would you change local public services?

The challenges on both sides for Councils and 3rd sector bodies (charities and social enterprises) to work better together are often discussed but my own observation shows how little the 2 understand each other, in fact how little local councils know about the organisations that exist.

Based on a central government idea, Council staff and 3rd sector staff could arrange an "in your shoes" swap, each working in the other's environment for at least a day, preferably a week. This should be compulsory for all commissioners as part of their training and development but optional for other Council staff.

Findings and observations could be shared on a blog to demonstrate the value and also share information on the variety of third sector bodies' work. This could also form the basis of a database of third sector bodies wishing to work with local councils.

  • Matt Clack
    08 Oct at 15:16

    I think this would be great, and could work either as a 'job exchange' (where interested individuals register, and an intermediary matches them to relevant organisations for them to shadow for a week) or simply setting up a system of sharing work space for an agreed time period.

    I’ve previously wondered about setting up a system similar to a council’s VCS grant funding programme, but offering staff instead of money. This might be an HR manager writing conduct policies, a performance monitoring officer helping with data reporting, or something more service specific like environmental health. This lacks the two-way aspects that your idea provides, but does retain a relationship and offers council support when funding may be harder to offer. Do you think VCS organisations would be interested in this?

    I really like the aspect you’ve included about blogging as a way of ensuring the learning is shared more widely.

  • Nicola Wilson
    08 Oct at 21:23

    I think it could definitely work and that organisations would be interested - skillshare activities and pro bono support are fairly common contributions from the private sector anyway.

    However, I suppose the one thing it may lack if they are doing their normal "day job" in the VCS setting is the real "in your shoes" aspect - ie to experience what it's like for someone, for example, trying to negotiate with a commissioner or seek funding from other sources- some of they key challenges the employees or volunteers may experience day to day.

    That said, your idea is almost a separate one and equally valid I think. Thanks for supporting this -I'm glad you liked my idea.

  • Noel Hatch
    02 Jan at 11:05

    When I joined local government, I did a few skill shares with different types of organisations who were leading in new ways of working to try and get under the skin of how they worked - i.e. Department for Business, Innovation & Skills on how they set up a new team on digital engagement and School of Everything on the different roles & working habits they adopted to run their startup. It also enabled them to come and find out the dynamics of how a council works, which you wouldn't necessarily know unless you worked there.

    The way I did it was through individuals I knew rather than the organisations themselves. They were people who I suspected were up for this kind of exchange.

    Matt, I really like your approach too, focusing on what resources the council has beyond money (which from working with community groups / entrepreneurs, what they often prefer is specialistic expertise like you describe than the equivalent in £).

    I wonder if encouraging this to happen informally or providing a formal approach (skills exchange programme) is more effective?