Building the basis for a new community fund
"Action Planning managed the end-to-end piece of work for us and gave us exactly what we needed. Eleanor produced a quality piece of work, which is demonstrated by the ease with which we’ve been able to implement it and the positive responses we have received from the organisations Eleanor engaged.”"
CRIS SOWDEN, CHAIR, MOMARK
MoMark is a mental health charity (formerly the League of Friends for the Morris Markowe Unit) based in Wandsworth, which has historically, provided grants to support service users for Springfield University Hospital. Under its new Chair, Cris Sowden, the Board agreed that it wanted a change of strategy, to support organisations in the community that support positive mental health. As a volunteer group, they lacked the capacity to conduct their own investigations into local mental health service providers and the level of need in the community to make an informed decision on how best to make a positive impact. Action Planning was chosen, following a tendering process, from a handful of consultants to help.
The initial brief was to research the current statutory and non-statutory mental health service provision in Wandsworth and provide a report, including recommendations, on how MoMark could maximise its impact. The Board were impressed with the comprehensiveness of the report and subsequently requested an extension to the brief to include an action plan for MoMark to implement and a review of MoMark’s policies to ensure their appropriateness. The report’s key recommendation was the establishment of a new community mental health fund. Following this request, a step-by-step action plan was developed for the Board to follow to create the new fund. A review of their governance policies and processes was also completed with recommendations to ensure they were up to date and comprehensive.
We assigned the task to Action Planning Associate Eleanor Mitchell, who has extensive experience in the mental health field. Eleanor was able to speak with CCG and Local Authority commissioners, local charities and statutory services and compile a report that provided a basis for the fund and informed the board of the current landscape. The Board then asked Eleanor to carry out further steps to help progress the work from recommendation to implementation. She produced a comprehensive implementation plan with a list of actions and carried out the governance review.
Eleanor’s report had the double benefit of giving the Board clear sight of the mental health landscape in Wandsworth and raising the profile of MoMark in the borough. By speaking to different service managers, Eleanor helped to build MoMark’s reputation and give an understanding of the charity’s aspirations for the future. Due to her mental health knowledge and background, she was able to ensure the Board felt confident in what the fund should be used for and how to go about it. MoMark has since made the change from a League of Friends to a Community Interest Organisation, developed its decision-making process, launched its new website and the Mental Health Community Fund for Wandsworth.
MoMark has a highly functional, committed board. They required some insight into how best to have an impact and how to shape the fund in light of mental health service provision in Wandsworth. Adding mental health skills and experience and strategic process to their dedication was useful to provide a direction for the fund.
The research of local service provision was also a reputation building exercise and the organisations all thought highly of MoMark, due to the understanding of the mental health landscape. It has meant that MoMark has been able to pick up the engagement with positive first impressions and has meant the introduction of the fund has been positively received across the organisations in the community.
The MoMark board took the time to fully understand the implementation plan and took on all the actions, with my support in developing their understanding, responding to questions and tailoring the fund to MoMark’s needs.