New research: Building staff resilience to support long-term organisational development

Monday, 21 June 2021 - 10:05am

A new research project, launched by City Bridge Trust, aims to support frontline workers in the voluntary sector, leading to longer-term organisational development.

The project will engage participants in a 22-week online coaching-based intervention, with participating organisations receiving payments of £25,000 (inclusive). The project opens for applications from organisations working in the homelessness sector on 05/07/21.

City Bridge Trust (CBT) aims to empower and build capacity in London’s voluntary sector by enhancing sector workers’ resilience. The need to support frontline workers to adapt and learn from ongoing work challenges, breaking cycles that lead to staff burnout, was raised as an issue by funded organisations in 2018.

Our first resilience initiative, ‘Responding to the Resilience Risk’ (RRR) launched the following year, with findings published in August 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak, and amid growing awareness of the structural inequalities uncovered by the pandemic, amplified by Black Lives Matter. As CBT reviews its funding approach and priorities in response to 2020, our work on resilience resumes with a renewed significance.

Supporting frontline workers

CBT will draw on practices developed in the worlds of business and academia, often the reserve of individuals in elite training or senior positions, and use them to support frontline workers in the voluntary sector. By doing so, we aim to address structural inequality and test a new and more equitable model of resilience support, one that recognises and respects individual starting points, strengths, and potential for development and growth. 

The RRR2 initiative, which opens for applications from organisations working in the homelessness sector on 05/07/21, will engage participants in a 22-week online coaching-based intervention between October 2021 and April 2022. RRR2 activities are being designed and delivered by our delivery partner, Guildhall Coaching Associates, and the project’s impact will be measured and evaluated by our evaluator, Renaisi.

Evaluation and coaching

Participating organisations will release eight members of frontline staff, who are willing and motivated, and available for a maximum of three hours per week for the 22-week duration. Within this time commitment, participants will contribute to RRR2’s evaluation by completing questionnaires and interviews, as well as engaging in a range of individual and group coaching activities as part of the RRR2 intervention.

To enable full and consistent engagement of eight staff members, a payment of £25,000 (inclusive of VAT) will be offered to organisations selected to participate. It is anticipated that individual engagement schedules will be confirmed in September 2021. Further eligibility criteria can be found here.

Homeless Link

The application and selection processes for RRR2 are being led by our coordination partner, Homeless Link, representing a new partnership approach to programme delivery for CBT, through which decision-making responsibility is shared between ourselves and an organisation working in the homelessness sector. 

RRR2 builds upon the lessons and recommendations from our first resilience intervention, the evaluation of which, published in 2020, can be found here https://www.citybridgetrust.org.uk/resilience-of-charity-frontline-staff-a-pilot-study/. These findings pointed to the need for resilience interventions to incorporate both individual and group activities, both of which feature in the RRR2 model. The 2020 evaluation also recommends the relationship between individual and organisational resilience be researched further.

Long-term organisational development

The evaluation of RRR2, scheduled for publication in September 2022, will be of interest to funders and other voluntary sector partners, especially those interested in supporting organisational sustainability across the board. For example, by addressing issues of staff satisfaction, progression and retention, it should be possible to underpin longer-term organisational development. CBT’s aim to develop funder practice in relation to resilience support has been encouraged by our funding partner for RRR2, Oak Foundation.

Collaboration, learning and equity, all central to RRR2, are fundamental tenets of CBT’s work as we adapt and move forward with a refocussed funding strategy, due to launch later in 2021. 

Notes

Oak Foundation provided financial support to CBT to measure how coaching-based activities support the resilience of frontline staff in the homelessness sector in London, the UK. It is hoped that this work will influence how grant-makers support not-for-profit organisations working in the homelessness sector more broadly. Overall, Oak Foundation provides support to help organisations grow stronger in terms of their organisational capacity, so that they can better attain their grant objectives and achieve their goals.

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Julia Mirkin

Funding Manager

Julia Mirkin is Funding Manager at City Bridge Trust.