Local groups win Lancashire contracts

A consortium of 12 small voluntary organisations led by a larger regional charity has won two major contracts from Lancashire County Council to provide housing support services for vulnerable people in the county.

The contracts, which will run for three years, are part of the Department of Communities and Local Government’s supporting people programme.

The local groups will be coordinated from a central referral office run by social inclusion charity Developing Initiatives Supporting Communities, which operates across the north of England.

Sue Ryland, independent living service operations director at Disc, said the charities had recognised that they lacked the resources to bid for the large new contracts individually.

Stephen Gross, director of adult services at Lancashire County Council, said the authority had been impressed by Disc throughout the tendering process. “We believe this contract offers statutory agencies a means of achieving some of their key strategic priorities,” he said.

One of the small charities involved in the partnership is the Lancashire Young Homeless Project. Peter Collinson, director at the project, said: “I can see the benefits of working with an established and experienced organisation like Disc, and there is already a strong bond of partnership between the agencies concerned and a desire to deliver quality services.”

The other 11 members of the partnership are: Lancaster and District Homeless Action Service, Inward House Projects, Lancaster and District Women’s Aid, Preston Women’s Refuge, West Lancashire Women’s Refuge, Progress Care Housing Association, Richmond Fellowship, South Ribble Key, Chorley and South Ribble Mind, Together: Working for Wellbeing and North West Community Services.

Kevin Curley, chief executive of the umbrella body Navca, said that the contracts were good news for the local voluntary sector in Lancashire. “At last we have a large regional charity that sees the need to build local capacity in a genuine partnership with local groups in a way in which the resources are shared equitably,” he said.

“So many large national charities measure success by growth in turnover and compete against local groups. Disc values local knowledge and expertise. As a consequence, people who need supported housing will benefit from a wide range of services provided by people who are rooted in Lancashire communities.”

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