Can the Third Sector really deliver public services?

Vicki2Groundwork is a local charity which supports the development of the people and places of Bolton, Bury, Oldham and Rochdale. Whether activities are around green space development, employment and skills or health and wellbeing we put local people at the centre of everything we do.

Our Groundwork Trust serves the four local authorities of Bolton, Bury, Oldham and Rochdale in Greater Manchester and has been delivering local services for over 30 years. Building on our track record, we have recently convened a meeting of the senior officers of our four local authorities to discuss the role that Groundwork and other third sector organisations can play in delivering local services in the context of reduced public funding from 2015 onwards. The two meetings we have held to date enabled us to look at radical and different ways of delivering for the future and gave us a great opportunity to outline the offer that Groundwork can make to delivering more and different public services in the future. We think we have a lot to offer!

Can Groundwork really deliver public services?

  1. Our first task in hand was to make sure that our local authority partners fully understood the breadth of our offer and track record to date. View our short Prezi to find out more about our work.
  2. We needed to change the perceptions held by some – of Groundwork being a charity focused on donations, volunteers and tree planting – to enable them to see that as a Trust we already hold some significant contracts for delivering services.
  3. We also gained a better understanding of the current context for our four local authorities and the key drivers in terms of service reform.
  4. We developed together an ‘Ask and Offer’ document which sets out some clear areas where it could make sense for Groundwork to deliver a local service
  5. We then explored the opportunity to scale up some of the offers across all four of the local authorities
  6. We finally agreed a small number of priority areas to explore and take forward in more detail.


The Groundwork Offer

We already deliver a wide range of funded community based provision that:

– supports the work and skills agenda

– improves the health and wellbeing of residents

– takes a holistic approach to personal development and behavioural change

  • Our learners and beneficiaries often make more sustainable and greater lifestyle changes – so when the funding stops, the change continues
  • We have a number programmes where we are in contact with large numbers of local people – your patients
  • We have a track record of bringing in investment and delivering health improvements for residents with complex needs


Our Current track record:

There is a very long history to the involvement of Groundwork in meeting welfare needs and providing services:

  • Delivery of the Work Programme – working with 2000 long term unemployed residents of Rochdale and Bury. Last year we helped 930 people into work.
  • Prince’s Trust Team programme – a personal development scheme for 16-25 year olds. We deliver over 20 community based teams per year for more than 150 residents.
  • Accredited volunteering through Hopwood Hall College – engaging more than 300 people per year in a variety of social action and community learning courses.
  • Community Champions – facilitating the 200 strong network of community champions to support digital, financial and social inclusion for local people
  • Green space improvement schemes – using environmental improvement projects to up-skill, increase employability and improve health. Last year we improved and maintained over 130,000m2 of land
  • Housing Refurbishment training projects – tackling void properties as part of a training scheme that develops building skills over a 15 week period.
  • Specialist CBT support for the long term unemployed – supporting Work Programme clients whose mental health acts as a barrier to employment.


Raising the Questions

  • The current discussions around third sector delivery and social values – rhetoric or reality?
  • How can third sector organisations gain a track record in local service delivery?
  • When will third sector organisations like Groundwork be seen as equal partners?
  • Where will third sector organisations stand at this time next year?

I’m keen to hear the thoughts of any partners in relation to the above. Please comment below or email me at




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