Meet the Grantees - Cancer Focus Northern Ireland
Cancer Focus Northern Ireland will receive £50,000 over two years from the Collaboration Enabling Fund. Here Roisin Foster, Chief Executive, tells us about how they plan to use the grant.
Tell us more about your organisation?
Cancer Focus Northern Ireland is a local charity that has worked for over 40 years to reduce the impact of cancer in Northern Ireland.
We do this by providing care and support services to anyone affected by cancer, delivering cancer prevention programmes, campaigning for effective health policies and funding local ground breaking research. We have made a real impact in communities: influencing media, opinion formers and policy makers to improve cancer services and public health policy.
One of our strategic directions in recent years has been to nurture a more visible presence throughout Northern Ireland and to bring our services to traditionally hard to reach areas.
How did you apply for this fund?
Since our original Exploring Change grant we have been working closely with Collaboration NI on developing the relationship with our partner organisation.
Through shared planning and evaluation, facilitated by Collaboration NI, we began to see that to fully realise the potential of this partnership we required a dedicated staff member to develop and support effective working.
We had also been awarded money for individual/cluster support and showcasing, and Collaboration NI signposted us to appropriate support to maximise the benefit of this.
This direction proved invaluable in helping us assess what had been achieved so far and focus on where we wanted to take our collaboration.
Through this relationship we became aware of the Enabling Fund grant and investigated how this funding could help us develop the collaboration further. We worked together with our partner to identify a way forwards and completed and submitted the official grant application form.
What action have you been able to take with this grant?
This grant has allowed us to employ a project coordinator as a dedicated, shared employee tasked with developing the project and managing the Centre of Excellence that supports the work of the collaboration and each of the partners separately.
Who are you working with on this project?
Our partner organisation, LiLac (Life is for Living After Cancer) is a small volunteer led charity based in Cookstown.
How have you found collaborating with another organisation?
There have been real challenges in working in collaboration, given the difference in scale of the two organisations. Our shared commitment to improving services in Mid Ulster for people affected by cancer has ensured that our partnership has been successful. We have developed a positive relationship and commitment to move forward.
How has Collaboration NI provided support?
Collaboration NI helped us develop our original draft partnership agreement into a more robust formal agreement, and to explore the practical operational issues around collaboratively managing people, property and resources.
Through this process we recognised that, whilst this prototype had been successful to a certain extent, there were real challenges in moving the initiative forward without dedicated staff resource.
At that stage the work had been progressed by a fully voluntary committee with one part-time employee on LiLAC's side and members of the management team from Cancer Focus, all of whom already had challenging substantive roles.
Both partners have remained fully committed to the project, with an aim of exploring how an NI wide charity could work with a locally based charity to recognise and build on the strengths of each for the benefit of the end user.
Our collaboration is called ‘Better Together’, a partnership for Mid Ulster.
How has your organisation benefited from the Collaboration Enabling Fund?
Cancer Focus has benefited in a number of ways. Having a dedicated project coordinator has made moving forward with our shared work so much less stressful and more productive.
The coordinator sits within the line management structure of Cancer Focus and is therefore subject to the policies and procedures we already have in place.
This in turn has meant that she is fully supported in managing the Centre of Excellence in Cookstown that houses shared Better Together services and those offered separately by Cancer Focus and by LiLac.
We are in a much stronger position to be able to strategically develop our work and have very exciting plans for the future. Overall Cancer Focus has been able to forge a strong local partnership to deliver more services and support more people living in the Mid Ulster community.