Alice Singleton, Chief Executive of DIAL Solihull, joined the user-led disability advice charity three years ago and quickly discovered that a comprehensive review of governance, services, systems and policies was needed if the organisation was to become ‘commissioning ready’ and meet the growing needs of disabled people and their carers.
It was shortly after the new board of trustees completed a full service review that DIAL identified the need for external help to implement some of the changes necessary to position the organisation for key contracts.
After mixed success in sourcing support, Alice came across Development in Social Enterprise through the Community Enterprise for Success programme in Solihull. DIAL was able to access a menu of business support services delivered by professional business advisers and trainers who understand the challenges and demands faced by many frontline VCS organisations whose services are under increasing pressure during these austere times.
“Over a period of six months we attended practical workshops which were very relevant and timely for our needs. The first session on business planning helped me to recognise my strengths and equipped me to work with one of my trustees on drafting DIAL’s business plan – without feeling out of my depth!”
Alice and her team were given tailored support by DISE to review and update a wide range of policies from working with volunteers to IT.
“We had help to prepare and issue a new fit for purpose employee handbook, which will accommodate our needs as we start to grow and extend our services in the future.
“The full cost recovery session was a real eye opener as it guided us through the process of calculating the true cost of our services, rather than using a ‘finger in the air’ approach when writing bids.
“A taster session on social impact measurement has confirmed that we must make better use of the tools available, and the networking opportunities afforded by the training sessions were an unexpected bonus.
“We’re certainly better prepared for commissioning and have no hesitation in recommending DISE to other charities and VCOs in Solihull.”