Is it worth putting in the effort to build local partnerships?
Partnership and collaboration are common buzz words, thrown around liberally by modern slavery campaigners. We all know the theory but how does it work in practice? The Clewer Initiative interviewed Revd Dr Dan Pratt about his pioneering work in Southend and what to prioritise when forming strategic partnerships.
Dan identified five key elements to his work in Southend:
1. Get talking
Three years ago, Revd Dr Dan Pratt started the Southend Against Modern Slavery (SAMS) Partnership. Even before he held the first formal partnership meeting, he had been actively at work, making connections and meeting people.
Dan explains: “I organised lots of one-to-one meetings with community organisations, hearing their stories, gathering information, understanding what services different groups provided and doing a light-touch mapping exercise. It was clear there was a modern slavery problem across Southend and as I met people, I began drawing them into the vision and inviting them to join the partnership.”
Dan continues: “As exploitation was affecting the local community, I knew we needed a community response. I wanted to build a broad coalition, from across the community, of faith groups, charities, and local statutory organisations. Meeting key individuals laid the groundwork for building trust, credibility and early ownership of the partnership.”
2. Meet regularly
SAMS Partnership meets quarterly to learn more about modern slavery and hear from its partners. Each meeting lasts 90 minutes and Dan works hard to ensure many different voices are heard at the meetings. There is always a keynote speaker who shares insight on an aspect of anti-slavery work and Police, Council and other charities are given 10 minutes each to feedback on their activities.
3. Focus on quick wins and specific outcomes
Dan believes that achieving early successes has been a good strategy. At the beginning, Dan looked at the skills in the Partnership, and prioritised action that could be delivered quickly and effectively and build credibility with frontline partners. For example, Dan worked closely with a local Rape Crisis Charity to deliver a sexual exploitation awareness campaign and also co-organised a modern slavery conference with Essex University to train social work students, which the local community were invited to attend.
Dan adds: “As a church pastor with no specific background in modern slavery or social work, it was really important to show that we weren’t just a talking shop but that we could make a real difference and work towards specific outcomes. It has been particularly important to show this to our statutory partners and through regular communication and lots of leg work between meetings, we have really been able to make things happen.”
4. Collaborate on key projects
By working with others, SAMS Partnership has been able to amplify its impact and gain gravitas amongst key players. This year, Dan and his partner at Southend Council have co-delivered and co-produced four training packages – one for general Council employees; one for housing providers and social landlords; one for charities and third sector organisations and one for NHS staff and healthcare professionals. So far, 12 workshops have been undertaken, reaching more than 400 participants. Because of the training, they have seen a significant uplift in the identification of victims locally, particularly through the town’s social work teams.
5. Build in accountability
In terms of doing things differently in the future, Dan thinks he could have formed the Steering Group earlier: “In retrospect, it would have been good to have the Steering Group with its six community partners up and running from the beginning of the Partnership. The Steering Group provides accountability and governance. It is vital to have the right people on that group.”
These initiatives are the fruit of three years of intensive relationship building and collaborative working. To find out more about SAMS Partnership, visit https://www.samspartnership.org.uk/