The day provided an opportunity to improve understanding of what 'impact' means to the third sector and academia, to identify practical steps to effective collaboration for greater impact, and for third sector and academics to network together.
The event was really popular! It was oversubscribed and had a waiting list - evidence that people are interested in learning more about how to collaborate successfully!
Steven Marwick, ESS Director, welcomed everyone to the day and started us off with an ice breaker to define 'impact'. It's amazing how many different ways 10 people round a table can describe one word!
Cassy Rutherford from The Robertson Trust was the first speaker. As a member of the Knowledge Translation Network (KTN) Cassy had been involved in writing the guide - 'Collaborating with academics'. She explained how the guide will help third sector organisations think about collaborations from beginning to end, and how to avoid the barriers and overcome issues, as and when, or if they arise.
The following next two speakers, Shelley Breckenbridge's (Interface) and John McAteer's (Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy), spoke about brokering third sector/academia collaborations. People were very interested in the resources that these organisations offered. SCPHRP have a fund which third sector organisations can access to support collaboration (third sector can apply for a grant for professional development, such as, attending a conference or a course). Interface are a matchmaking organisation linking Scottish businesses and academics.
Shelley's tips for successful collaborations include: 1. Be specific - have clear communication, agree milestones, set timescales, ask questions. 2. Manage expectations. 3. Have a project champion to keep things on track. 4. Grow your collaborative relationship - start off small and it may grow to working together on larger pieces of work.
The speakers gave us lots of food for thought. Discussions at tables were lively. People had a chance to talk about their experiences of collaboration. Some people said they had had difficulty getting in touch with academics or just trying to find out who to get in touch with in the first place. There was a range of discussions, such as, the usefulness of sitting on each other's advisory groups or Boards, the effectiveness of having an 'intern', power dynamics in the collaborative relationship, and the resources available to help.
Three case studies were then presented: 1. Drink Wise, Age Well: Addaction and Glasgow Caledonian University 2. Doing and evaluating community research: University of Stirling 3. InterAction: Carnegie UK Trust and University of Newcastle.