Lessons learned

ASTF Learning and Support – Lessons Learned

At the end of the ASTF funding programme, along with a final seminar, the Learning and Support team produced 2 reports, reflecting on the ASTF experience. One report is for practitioners and one is for the sector through network organisations. Both reports are available to download:

ASTF Learning and Support Practitioner Report April 2016

ASTF Learning and Support Contract Sector Report April 2016

3 partnership representatives also shared their stories:

Bradford Community Advice Network

Lancashire West ASTF partnership

Brighton and Hove ASTF partnership


“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” ― Albert Einstein

At ASTF networking events, people said that not only did they want to know what was working well for other partnerships, but also what was not working so well or what had been tried but wouldn’t be tried again.

We asked partnerships to share lessons learned and have categorized responses.

Basic principles An open mind is essential to ensure that we learn as much as we can from and input appropriately into working in partnership
Deal with issue when they arise and not “cope”
Be very specific in what each partner is there to deliver and monitor regularly.
Honesty is really important within the partnership. it is important for partners to have the same general basic principles and be committed to the work
Produce very clear and unambiguous objectives for the project, also in respect of progress/evaluation.
Quality training provision is needed and well received.
Plan the finance and resource required to deliver the project in as much detail as possible.
Communication Clear, regular communication with partners, staff and volunteers essential to resolve issues
Decision making If there are a large number of partners establish smaller decision making groups for the main aims of the project.
Transformation Changes in terms of business are difficult to cultivate.
Partnership Partnership is a much needed initiative that encourages different organizations to liaise actively and in the interest of the community it serves. It enables us to get through to some of the most vulnerable groups within the community.
Just because other colleagues are under the same national body does not mean that it will be easy to work with them
It is not a linear process but goes backwards and forwards on the partnership/team line (forming-storming-norming-performing).
Also that in a challenging economic climate  partnerships can be strained
If you don’t have equal investment of resources you don’t get equal committment to partnership
Smaller third sector organisations are more likely to engage than larger nationals.
Ownership of the project is critical by partners
Choosing partners That your choice of partner has to be fully considered before engaging them.
Timing Everything takes longer than you think it will with partnerships
Don’t underestimate the time needed to develop and build a partnership and implement changes
It takes time to build relationships and trust but the return on investment is high.
Partnership work requires intensive time
ASTF experience Having sufficient resources to run the project has enabled its success
2 years funding is not enough. Just as the partnership is really gaining momentum, developing well, influencing strategically and collaborating with others, we will need to manage without the project lead roles.
Systems and processes Referral systems are difficult to set up but once done are a valued resource