Dorset Continuum  - Consortium Building


In 2011 it became obvious to member of the 0-19 VCS Forum, those organisations working with and for children, young people and their families in Dorset, that funding opportunities had been getting less and that they were getting more complex.  This meant that organisations working in Dorset did not have all the skills or capacity to fit tender and grant requirements individually.

Dorset Youth Association was approached by Dorset County Council to encourage smaller organisations to bid for tenders they were putting out.    However with the increased complexity of tenders it became obvious that there was a need to bring organisations together to work jointly on these tenders.

Dorset Youth Association engaged with Children England and Locality to bring in the expertise in building collaborative working.  Through networking with members of the 0-19 VCS Forum, organisations chose to engage in the process of setting up a collaboration and then to become a Company Limited by Guarantee, with 8 Directors.   With such a new concept for many of these organisations there were difficulties that required working through. 

Using Continuum as the delivery vehicle, we were awarded, through Lead Partners, funding to deliver for the Realising Ambition Funding, from BIG Lottery; Advice & Information contract from Dorset County Council and the Dorset Families Matter Framework as broker for the consortium.  Before Continuum each organisation would have had to apply individually for such funding – using Continuum as a funding vehicle reduced the workload for 16 organisations.

In 2014 Continuum applied for funding from the Social Investment Business Group for a Feasibility Grant to take us the next step.  We were delighted to hear this was successful, and we started work with Anthony Collins Solicitors to consider our charitable status, develop Management Information Systems and Financial Information Systems, undertake research into the current market, put into place legal contracts and subcontracting policies and procedures, and undertake further bid to take the consortium forward.

We achieved the very tight deadlines set by the funding, and in April 2015 Continuum became a charity and was in the position to start bidding for work in its name.

There are ongoing concerns that arise, but Continuum is now equipped with a robust set of policies and procedures, and mutual understanding of each partner that allows a positive way forward to be developed.