We’ve outgrown our venue at 7 Douglas Street, and we’re moving to 31 Chapel Street, in with our partners Conduit Scotland. And aside from the logistics of moving and the practical aspects of sharing a space, we’re working hard to try and establish new agreements, based on strong principles of collaboration.
The Dunfermline Advice Hub has been more than just a venue – we offer a wide range of additional services, mainly being a central point of contact for information and signposting for the Dunfermline area. Our partners will be benefiting from not only a free venue, but improved access to new and untapped citizens in need of their services. However, up to this point, we’ve had a very casual approach to our stakeholders using the Hub – we’ve not had official service level agreements or partnership agreements. From our stakeholder activities over the years, the feedback from our stakeholders have been that they were reluctant to sign up for official agreements, as we’ve not charged for our venue, and our requirements have been more about collaboration instead of cash. So, in order to cultivate trust, we’ve had a casual arrangements where users of the Hub are given an induction and a user guide, and more recently, we’ve developed our Memo of Understanding (see blog post on the MoU development). This approach has been successful in some ways, where we’ve now worked with over 70 organisations across Fife, but there have been challenges, such as sustainability and capacity issues.
So where do we go from here? In our new venue, we hope to introduce a new User Agreement. In our cash-strapped climate these days, organisations and charities are working more with less, so we have to be innovative in what we can negotiate in return. We’re in the very privileged position that Conduit are offering fantastic accommodations for us for free, so we won’t be asking for money or physical resources for room hire. We want to share our excellent fortune, but as the Hub is much more than just a venue, we will be asking our stakeholders for asking for support in different ways – free awareness training, signposting to our service, sharing of our social media posts, opportunities to promote our service at events and staff meetings – there are lots different ways to contribute that don’t cost much, but mount up to a huge impact for all of us.
Collaboration and cooperation is our CORE. From our inception from the Dunfermline Poverty Action Group, to working with the Local Authority Support Team at Scottish Government, to our Partnership Project funded by Aspiring Communities, we have been trying new ways to challenge silo working, increase knowledge, confidence and skills in signposting, and to cultivate an ethos across organisations of “no wrong doors”. To help do this, we’ve planned three events – 18th Feb, 27th Feb, and 8th Mar, where we’ll be discussing with a wide range of our partners on how we create User Agreements that work for us both, and crucially, works to improve all our services to be better, serve our community better, and increase our mutual value and impact.