‘Exploring Shared Services’ Forum

November 19, 2015 @ Etobicoke Civic Centre

Our “Exploring Shared Services” event brought together 35 managers, supervisors, and frontline staff interested in exploring the spectrum of shared services and service collaboration, from “pop-up” service partnerships to formalized community hub development, construction and partnership planning. Through the experiences of our panelists and keynote speaker, participants had the opportunity to hear and talk about what makes shared services beneficial to service providers, clients, and funders, as well as some of the unique challenges faced in the process of developing shared services.

Our half-day event included a keynote address by Lorraine Duff, Director, Programs, United Way Toronto & York Region highlighting the United Way’s process for supporting the development and implementation of the Hub model across Toronto, and some of the key challenges around sustainability and building a partnership environment that can support dynamic and constantly changing organizational realities. Our three panelists included:

– Ann McRae, Director of Legal Services, Rexdale Community Legal Clinic & Chair, Rexdale Community Hub. Based on her experience as Chair of Rexdale Community Hub, Ann shared with us a “Community Hub Recipe” about the numerous ingredients that need to be brought together for a Hub shared service model to thrive.

– Nadia Sokhan, Director of Monitoring, Reporting & Partnerships, Polycultural Immigrant & Community Services. Nadia spoke about the importance of finding the right people with whom to build a relationship to explore shared services, and the importance of time to build that relationship, in relation to the itinerant services Polycultural Immigrant & Community Services and Etobicoke General Hospital have been rolling out.

– Marie Truelove, St. James United Church, Co- Chair, St. James Food Basket. Marie shared the remarkable work of the St. James Food Basket, acting as a volunteer-run pop-up food bank and the number of formal and informal partnerships they have developed to be able to reach close to 200 families every month.

Following the stories shared by our panelists, participants had the opportunity to ask questions and highlight the significant spectrum of shared services they could embark on. Participants then broke out into three groups to discuss the following questions:

– What are the benefits and challenges to the client when working in a shared services model?
– What are the benefits and challenges to the agency when working in a shared services model?
– What do you think the funder’s perspective would be when working with a shared services model?

Participant groups had the opportunity to share their discussions with the larger group, which are available here. As a group we certainly began to understand that the benefits of shared service delivery (whether co-location, itinerant service delivery, or other models) were HUGE for clients – and that the challenging back-end work for agencies and funders is very important to help make service delivery a better, smoother experience for clients.

The afternoon ended with a door prize draw with three lucky winners!

Thank you to the speakers, volunteers, forum participants and the members of the TWLIP Service Coordination Action Group, who planned and organized the event.