CEO’s Blog – 10/08/2018
Over this past few weeks my time has been taken up with a tender for a new contract for our Supported Accommodation Service – i.e for our charitable work. Without someone paying for this service we would quite simply not exist so as contracts go, this is quite an important one. In short we currently contract with our county council but in future they will only contract with “the big boys” not smaller charities like The Bridge Trust, so we have had to tender for an interim 6 months contract and then we will seek another contract from elsewhere – possibly from one of those “big boys”.
The process has been confusing, with one tender document, one contract and a plethora of schedules that are applied not just to our service but to many other types of homelessness service. You may imagine that this one size fits all approach has been quite challenging, with requirements for one type of service applied to all services. To be able to fulfill the terms of the new contract we have therefore had to implement training, policies, procedures, appoint new roles, appoint external consultants, increase insurance and all sorts; costing much time and plenty of money, with not really enough time to get it all done. So we would be justified in being a bit exasperated about this.
However, instead of moaning, complaining or objecting to these new requirements (which achieves nothing anyway), we have simply analysed what needs to be done and got on with it. OK, I will admit that there have been a few “head in the hands” moments along the way, mainly trying to understand what exactly was needed from us, but once we understood that we seized upon the opportunity to learn new things, approach other things in a different way, do training on issues we didn’t know enough about and change some our working practices here and there. For example, it was a contractual requirement that all staff do training in Female Genital Mutilation. So we researched the subject and decided that the best way to cover this was to put together our own training module including some videos, to bring everyone’s knowledge up to the required standard. It is highly unlikely that in our setting that we would need this knowledge but actually it was really interesting to find out more about this subject – although I would admit it was unsavory and quite stomach-churning to realise exactly what is involved and how much of it goes on. In actual fact I mentioned this to my wife who works with young children and who therefore had done lots of training on FGM (as she was in a setting that could easily detect something like this). It opened up a whole new area of conversation for us (although maybe not over dinner!)
So, I now know all about FGM, as well as the Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty, child trafficking and gang exploitation… and more. Not things that in our 26 year history we have ever come across, but that’s not the point. It’s good stuff to know, may open up avenues with other people and even looks good on the CV!
I was reading a bit in the Bible about Jeremiah who is mainly known for prophesying the downfall of Judah; think private Fraser from Dads Army – “We’re doomed, we’re all doomed” (in a Scottish accent). Even in modern secular language it’s not uncommon for someone to be referred to as “a bit of a Jeremiah”. Having said that he wasn’t all doom and gloom as there was a message of hope there as well! But we can all get a bit like that at times can’t we?
So what am I getting at? Well in whatever situation you are in, whether home and family or in business, you always have a choice about how to approach life’s challenges and changes – you can be a private Fraser or you could adopt a more positive attitude. Look at things as challenges and opportunities, not problems and headaches. Don’t avoid new ideas and change, but reach out to find them.
Although having said that, fans of TV sitcom “Friends” out there may remember an episode where Phoebe’s new boyfriend Parker (played by Alex Baldwin) was SO positive about EVERYTHING, it drove everyone mad – they likened him to “Santa on Prozac at Disneyland”. So perhaps I would caution a little balance with your approach to things as well.
So to end, you may not think that everything new under the sun is good or right for you or your business, and you might want to resist and even complain about changes that are forced upon you, but unless you “lift the rock” to see what’s under there, you will never know what you might find and just how good it may be for you – if not now, then maybe in the future. Try and be more positive and you might be surprised how things turn out.