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Working together to best support local communities across Sussex

Posted on 25 July 2023

Feedback from our recent perceptions survey

Working together, in the best way possible, is important to us. So much so, it is one of our core values; ‘United: together, we can achieve so much more’.

We’re proud of the relationships and networks we have developed since we were established over 50 years ago. However, we know there is always more we can do to work together to best support the local communities across Sussex we exist to serve.

As such, in June 2023, we sent a survey to commissioners of our services, our partners and the wider Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector to ask for feedback on how we do things; what works well and what can we improve. We also conducted one-to-one interviews with several of our stakeholders.

Thank you so much to everybody who shared feedback. We really appreciate you taking the time to respond and be involved, and for your honesty.

We have since analysed the feedback we received, which overall was extremely positive, and identified the following key insights:

  • Southdown is known as a big, professional, reliable, caring​ VCSE lead provider.
  • Southdown has a high level of visibility in the sector (with a lot of it down to Neil Blanchard, our Chief Executive), through our involvement in VCSE alliances, networks and acting as a sector representative.
  • Southdown is seen as a great partner who people like to be associated with – but people know less about employee and client experience​.
  • Strategy and operations could be more connected and consistent – particularly when considering new and transformational ways of working. ​
  • There’s a gulf with smaller VCSE providers that’s about mission and culture, as well as size.
  • Clients and tenants need more of a voice​.
  • Some people want to see Southdown speak up more and take a stronger position to lobby and campaign for issues impacting the VCSE sector and our local communities.

We then considered what we can do in response and identified five actionable opportunities:

  1. Make the most of the common ground we share with other, smaller VCSE organisations to bridge the gap that sometimes exists – Southdown acting as a generous and inclusive partner, using it’s scale and resources to support the wider VCSE sector.
  2. Support Neil (our Chief Executive) to continue to act as a sector leader, but with increased involvement and visibility of other Southdown colleagues.
  3. Pinpoint the reasons/point at which strategy and operations disconnect so that we can make them more connected, consistent and innovative.
  4. Give our clients and tenants more of a voice and a visible presence.
  5. Explore and build on our campaign voice.

Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be agreeing the actions we will take aligned to the five opportunity areas identified and will keep our stakeholders updated and involved.

Thanks again to everybody who supported our perceptions survey. Your opinion matters to us, and we remain committed to listening, learning and adapting what we do in support of the best interests of people that rely on housing, care and support services across Sussex.

If you would like to discuss how we can work together on mutual areas of interest, please get in touch (email us at info@southdown.org).