Building an effective collaborative network

NCAN provide a comment piece on the importance of the building an effective collaborative network

In the August edition of this newsletter CAN reflected on some of the challenges facing Norfolk’s charities. The knock-on effect of this is the impact they have on Norfolk’s citizens. Within welfare advice for example, 2023 research shows that UK households are missing out on over £19bn a year in unclaimed welfare benefits, and many NCAN advice partners are in an all-too-familiar position of struggling to meet demand before considering the additional pressures that winter will bring.

Nearly a year on from our cost-of-living emergency declaration, the issue continues to hit individuals and organisations alike, and partners report seeing increased demand for services from Norfolk’s most vulnerable communities. NCAN referrals continue to trend largely towards debt and mental health, and in March we hosted a partnership meeting that focused on the link between the two areas (you can view the recording here).

As a strategic partner within Empowering Communities, NCAN are supporting the development of a robust and well-resourced VCSE sector. We work towards this goal through our partnership meetings, which are attended by a wide range of key stakeholders and our referral system, a platform that allows VCSE and statutory partners to refer between each other efficiently.

Building a robust network and having mechanisms for collaboration can help to mitigate some of the impact organisations are facing, but it can also be an effective tool for achieving systemic change. Our partnership meetings have been a useful space to establish key themes around those challenges that both clients and organisations face. Collaborative campaigning that includes influencing and awareness-raising has an increasingly important role in the development of better opportunities for the sector.

As we head into winter there is a real need to focus on preventative work and networks can be a vital tool in not only developing new collaborative ways of working, but also communicating effectively as a collective voice with statutory and funding bodies. As a network NCAN, together with Empowering Communities, continues to promote the importance of developing and identifying sustainable funding sector-wide.

NCAN’s next partnership meeting is on Wednesday 6th December 10:00am – 11:30am led by Shelter, with a focus on the new Social Housing Regulation Act and the ongoing housing crisis. If you would like to attend or for more information, please contact

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