Mandy Forrest of the Sheffield Wellbeing Consortium says charities working together has made relationships between them more effective
A consortium of charities in Sheffield has won a £1.76m contract to support carers over the next three years from Sheffield City Council.
Mandy Forrest, director of Sheffield Wellbeing Consortium, said the council and primary care trust had aggregated about 13 contracts for carer support, largely previously delivered by the voluntary sector, into two larger contracts.
One of those contracts, to provide information and support services to carers, was won by her consortium, and will start on 1 October. The identity of the other contract winner has not yet been revealed.
"About a year ago we became aware that these contracts were likely to be aggregated," said Forrest. "We spent 11 months working together to develop our bid.
"There was no way any individual member of the consortium could have won this contract. A consortium was the only way they could have remained in competition."
Forrest said that developing a consortium had had major benefits for the sector beyond just winning a single contract. "We’ve been able to develop consistency and to work together," she said. "It’s made relationships between charities more effective."
Her consortium was formed three years ago, but this is the first opportunity it has had to bid for a large-scale contract, said Forrest. It has, however, won smaller contracts worth about £440,000 and now has a total income of more than £1m a year, almost all of which is passed on to member charities.
The consortium is an independent charity in its own right, but has 72 local third sector organisations as members. All of those members are potential delivery partners, but only eight will deliver the most recent contract.