Long-term planning for a community gem
"For any organisation that’s in muddy waters, by the end of the journey with David you’ll be crystal clear. He’s very direct and to the point and has helped to drive the vision of the organisation, to know where we’re going and also how we’re going to get there."
PAULETTE YUSUF, DIRECTOR, GRACE ORGANISATION
The Grace Organisation runs door-to-door and communal services aimed at combating loneliness and isolation among the elderly of Tottenham, an area of high deprivation. It also provides care for people suffering from dementia, disability, stroke, heart conditions and diabetes. Founded in 1983 by the late Daphne Marche MBE, an extraordinary lady with a boundless commitment to helping others, the organisation has been run since Daphne passed away in 2015 by her daughter, Paulette Yusuf. Paulette was keen to continue the good work her mother had instigated and contacted Action Planning for help in putting together a strategic plan. She had plenty of strategic experience from her work in local government and the NHS but, with funding and structural challenges on the horizon and a long developmental wish list, she recognised that she would need the help of a charity specialist to help achieve long-term stability. Having met David Saint through Action Planning’s Christian Charities Conference, she asked him to pitch and he impressed her with the clarity and structure of his proposal.
Paulette has seen the demographic of Tottenham change substantially since Grace was founded and wanted to get ‘ahead of the game’ in order to make sure the organisation would still be meeting the needs of the local community in 20 years time. She wanted to set out a stepped process to identify what the organisation would need at each stage and how to go about getting it.
David and Paulette worked together to develop a 20-year strategic plan, meeting every two to three months and communicating regularly in between via phone and email. David asked probing questions that prompted Paulette to think hard about not only the development of the organisation but her own personal development within that context. The trustees were fed into the process early on and Paulette kept them regularly updated.
For Paulette, one of the most valuable outcomes was being able to state with absolute clarity what the organisation needs and what its priorities are. Grace’s values, vision and mission were clearly defined and strategic objectives were set down, with milestones for the next five years. Indeed, a number of the initial milestones were accomplished during the planning process. With the strategic plan now in place, David and Paulette will meet monthly to help make sure it is being implemented.
In these challenging and uncertain times, it is truly inspiring to meet someone with a long-term vision – not just “how do we get through the next six months?” but “what could we be, what should we be, in 20 years’ time?” And it’s not that the Grace Organisation has been without challenges of its own. Paulette’s calm and faith-filled approach has enabled her to face and deal with those challenges, all the while keeping her eye on the long-term goal. As the external consultant, I have perhaps been able to ask the right questions to help Paulette think through the various issues, but she has been the one to come up with the answers; I now look forward to continuing to be that external challenger and encourager as the plan is implemented.