Comrades, Competitors or both?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about partnership. As the leader of a small charity it’s easy to feel isolated, lost in the mire of funding bids and contracts, policies and procedures. All any of us are doing is trying to ensure we can provide the support and services needed for those we were established to help. We are often bidding for the same pots of funding as other organisations we work with and it’s easy to develop a feeling of ‘them and us’ as we fight for the survival of our work.Over the last year I’ve worked closely with the leaders of twelve other organisations to develop a partnership and project that will not only see us as women’s charities working better together, but will give a voice and direct support to women and girls across our city. Women’s Lives Leeds is innovative in that it brings together a broad spectrum of women and girls organisations, each with their own identity, specialist knowledge and track record, and enables us to work together to make a difference.

Developing new partnerships is never easy. We all have competing priorities, high workloads and a low tolerance for wasted time! This time last year some of us didn’t know each other at all while others were already working closely together. Each woman has committed her time, energy, enthusiasm and expertise to develop a partnership that I really believe will make a difference to our city. 

I’m as proud of the partnership as I am of anything I’ve ever been involved in. We will all still be looking for funding and developing our individual organisations but by working together we have developed something great. There’s a buzz in the city, we are going to make a difference, all any charity leader can ask for.


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Hospice Director at Sue Ryder Wheatfields, feminist, mum of twins, committed to working together to ensure a sustainable, high quality voluntary sector.

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