You are the most important people in our world. Your interests are our interests. Your wish is our command. The only thing we won't do for you is lie or varnish the truth to make you feel better or to act in breach of our own code of ethics.
Some of you work in health and housing services but the great majority work in social, family and community services. But those are not the important distinctions. Though the professional tasks might often be very similar the driving forces which propel the public sector, the voluntary services and the commercially run services are very different. We understand those differences very well. We tailor our service to you to address the problems which are most important to you. The most exciting and effective partnerships are those which get the best out of all three; but you don't achieve that by pretending that the differences don't exist.
Commercial Service Providers
A reality not always fully understood by your counterparts from the voluntary and commercial sectors is that you operate strictly within the law, which includes Government guidance, and you cannot go beyond it. Most people do understand that you also have to put into effect the policy of your authority or agency. But there is little real awareness outside the public service of the level of control exercised nowadays by the Audit Commission and the various inspectorates and agencies of Government.
How can we help you?
Sometimes public sector clients want us to undertake traditional consultancy functions. What kind of organisation would deliver this service best? What are the financial or service costs and benefits of outsourcing this service and how should we go about it? How do we make our partnership on paper between (say) health and social services work in practice? How can we improve the level of staffing in the face of a national staff shortage. Sometimes you want straightforward training services. "Bring our staff up to speed on the implications of Best Value for day to day practice." "Train them to negotiate a better deal for their clients/patients."
But let's be brutally honest: more often than not the problem you face is driven by an outside pressure. A joint review or an inspection is scheduled or has reported on a shortcoming. A recent circular of guidance (or more often a sheaf of circulars of guidance) creates a new demand to be fitted within existing demands, and often within existing resources. By focussing on a (relatively) limited range of quite similar questions which you will find summarised elsewhere on the website we can help you to identify effective and presentable solutions which are difficult to arrive at in other ways.
Think of the alternatives. If you can resource them you can set up your policy staff to "gut" the guidance, to find out what others have done and to read the literature. On the basis of their learning they then have to come up with a strategy which fits your circumstances. They will need to train the managers to understand and the staff to implement the strategy.
© SSSP Ltd., September 2003