September 30, 2021 Blogs, Vlogs, and Webinars, Learning and Reflections

Working in a Bespoke Support Project delivery team with the TCE Support Programme – Delivery Partner and Implementation Lead reflections

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Working in a Bespoke Support Project delivery team with the TCE Support Programme – Delivery Partner and Implementation Lead reflections.

As the TCE support programme commences its final round of Bespoke Support Projects (BSPs) we thought this would be a great opportunity to reflect on the experiences and key takeaways of Nicky Hill (one of TCE’s long standing Delivery Partners) and Amy Hurst (Implementation Lead at TCE).

  1. As a Delivery Partner working on a BSP, what has your experience been to date?

Nicky: I have been a Delivery Partner for the Tackling Child Exploitation (TCE) Programme since its inception and have supported several Bespoke Support Projects in years one and two across different local areas. Each local area has had an individual change goal identified by Partners that they are seeking to achieve, with the support of the TCE team and Delivery Partners. As a freelance Delivery Partner, I bring a wealth of experience and expertise from my career working directly with young people affected by exploitation as well as experience as a senior leader in local government and the voluntary sector. The TCE team matches experience with the individual needs of local areas to ensure a good fit and to maximise the potential for positive and impactful collaborative working to achieve change.

Each BSP is as described – bespoke – it is tailored to meet the individual and specific needs locally and can involve a range of different activities. I have been involved in developing and delivering workshops, focus groups, reflective conversations and written resources to support local areas as part of Support Projects as well as contributing to presentations to strategic leaders on learning from projects and supporting the development of the final written reports to local areas.

  1. From your experiences, what has worked well to enable the effective planning and delivery of a project? Do you have any examples that you would like to share?

Nicky: The first step in ensuring effective planning and delivery of a project is really understanding the change goal identified by the partners in the local area. The ethos of the Tackling Child Exploitation programme is to work alongside local areas, offering them high support and high challenge to create meaningful change. This starts at the beginning and often includes supporting reflection on what change will really look like locally and why it is important. As a Delivery Partner, being able to be part of these early conversations is so helpful as it creates a foundational understanding of the local approach and the ambitions of the partnership and therefore the project. Acquiring insights into the dynamics, cultures and values of local areas early on in engagement has enhanced the development of both the approach and activities suggested by the TCE team.

Amy: For me as an Implementation Lead, early communication is fundamental to successful planning. We all have different communication preferences and styles, so talking about those from the outset can really support us as a delivery team in feeling able to get involved and engaged in a project in a way which works for us, helping to prevent any miscommunication.

  1. What has felt enabling for Delivery Partners and Implementation Leads within a BSP working with each other?

Nicky: Creating time for consideration of the change goal as well as the context for achieving change (including culture, capacity and dynamics) alongside the Project Lead has enabled a culture of collaborative and reflective thinking that can then be well modelled to local areas. TCE is committed to ‘working with, not doing to’ and it is helpful as a Delivery Partner to experience this way of working from the outset of BSPs as it embeds and layers understanding of this approach.

Working with the Project Lead, who in turn will be working closely and collaboratively with the single point of contact in the local area, to consider the activities that may form the BSP, ensures real buy-in from the Delivery Partner, with clearly defined roles and remits developing from the outset. Activity often evolves and requires ongoing reflection but feeling part of this allows the Delivery Partner to be part of the evolution, helping to shape it rather than just responding to it. This can add real value to the work being delivered.

Amy: Sometimes as an Implementation Lead, there are times where I am also trying something new for the first time and sharing any anxiety around this or making sure someone else in the team knows I’m feeling a little uncertain can help build my confidence and enable me to give things a go. We talk a lot in the programme about modelling behaviours with local areas and I think the same goes within delivery teams. Sharing skills and learning together is one of my favourite aspects of working with Delivery Partners on      BSPs.

  1. What key behaviours / skills from each other have supported you during a BSP?

Nicky: Having a team-focused Implementation Lead makes a real difference in both planning and delivery of bespoke support projects. All TCE staff and associates are team players but it is recognised that to work in a truly collaborative way takes time and focus. Often this is challenging within fast paced and complex projects. Having this focus has been so beneficial to both me as a Delivery Partner but also to the projects as it reinforces the need to ‘slow down’ and create time for considered thought. Utilising tools for collaboration such as shared documents also supports working together and working flexibly, enabling Delivery Partners to see plans and resources take shape and to meaningfully contribute, including offering supportive challenge.

Amy: As an Implementation Lead, I have really valued the range of different skills Delivery Partners have brought to the projects I’ve worked on. In many cases, this will be the first time we’ve worked together so having a discussion early on about interests, strengths and areas in which we would each like to develop as part of a project can help to create the conditions which allows us all to give our best. Honesty and collaboration are central to this.

  1. Which of your own key behaviours and skills have enabled you during a BSP?

Nicky: We both think that being able to sit comfortably and easily with challenge is a real asset for both the Implementation Lead and the Delivery Partner. Good BSPs utilise ongoing 360 feedback and reflection, and require positive reflection and adaptation throughout. Even with all the planning in the world, BSPs will often move and change as the process evolves and new ways of seeing and understanding local challenges emerge. This requires flexibility and agility in both thinking and practical planning. As a Delivery Partner, I have enjoyed sitting back and having discussions with the Implementation Lead on new insights and understanding that have taken us back to the drawing board or down new avenues of focus. Having this flexible and constantly curious approach is important.

  1. What advice do you have for other Delivery Partners who will undertake the planning and / or facilitation of a BSP?

Nicky: Supporting the work of the TCE Programme as a Delivery Partner is different to much of the work I do elsewhere. Understanding the ethos as well as the format of delivery is key to getting the most out of it. The commitment to ‘working with, not doing to’ means that you will not always be defining how things go and means listening and learning throughout rather than being the lead or shaping what local areas do – a challenge for many of us used to being in senior and strategic roles!

Also a challenge for many of us is owning up to the areas we’re less confident in, like aspects of online digital working and facilitation. One of the real assets of TCE is the breadth and depth of experience across the project team, which is shared through the microsite, community of practice days and subject-focused workshops. I would encourage any Delivery Partner to be open to when they may need some help  and to tap into the vast support offer available.

I am confident I am developing as many new skills, insights and ways of working as the local areas I am supporting through the BSPs, which is truly exciting.

Joining the Dots
Our collective knowledge of and understanding of child exploitation is still a developing field. Ideas and examples from across the sector and beyond may help bring a fresh new perspective or unlock a problem. The resources below are part of this rich conversation...
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