Independent Choices on their in-house consultancy experience

Using DSC's in-house consultancy to produce a strategic plan

A fantastic charity providing a domestic abuse helpline in the Greater Manchester area, Independent Choices, share their experience using DSC’s in-house consultancy service.

In-house consultancy is just one of DSC’s learning and development options. It involves finding the right DSC Associate with the expertise you need and helping you in your chosen area- it could be anything from HR policy reviews to creating a fundraising strategy.

Independent Choices share their journey using DSC in-house consultancy:

A bit about the organisation

We are a small charity based in Manchester offering a confidential domestic abuse helpline that serves Greater Manchester. The helpline also offers a service for South Asian women and is staffed by Urdu and Punjabi speaking paid staff and volunteers. Recently we have acquired an LGBT community support worker or IDVA (Independent Domestic Violence Advisor) supporting LGBT people across Greater Manchester. Independent Choices began in 1978 and we take around 4,500 calls per year on our helpline. We help with access to refuge and offer emotional support and signposting to specialist services.

Was there a specific obstacle you were trying to overcome?

I have been the manager of Independent Choices for around three and a half years. My background is more operational than strategic and due to funding cuts we had to lose our Chief Officer post several years ago. As our services have diversified recently, my job title is now director. Our board of trustees agreed that I could source a consultant to help create a new strategic plan that recognised the changes that have taken place over the last few years with new contracts and a new LGBT department. This has also coincided with a rebranding and a new website www.domesticabusehelpline.co.uk.

How did DSC’s in-house learning and development options help with this issue?

I have attended several training courses with DSC and found their training to be very useful and enjoyable. All the trainers I have met have been knowledgeable and have managed to create a relaxed and productive training environment. Consequently, I approached DSC to find out more about their bespoke services. I was put in touch with a consultant based in the North West, Estelle Neuman. I had a telephone conversation with Estelle which was really productive. We built up an instant rapport and I felt that we would be able to work well together. After the proposal was agreed by our board of trustees, Estelle devised a thorough schedule of work.

In order to produce the strategic plan, I met with Estelle around five times for several hours on each occasion. We also communicated by email and over the phone. I felt that Estelle was able to get an excellent understanding of the organisation very quickly and was able to put me at my ease in terms of all the strategic jargon which was new to me.

After around six weeks, our strategic plan was produced. Estelle also came to meet with our board of trustees which was important as it helped to create a full organisational “buy in” with the plan. Our strategic plan is now a living document which will be built on over time. It reminds us of our purpose and values and the directions that we are heading in and how we are planning to get there .

I would thoroughly recommend using DSC for any organisation that is thinking of developing a new strategic plan.   

Find our more about our in-house learning and development options