Partnership Working Case Study BBO Bridges

“We thank the team at Steps to Work for their confidence in us and for their continued support. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership together.”

Just Straight Talk ( JST) have worked in partnership with Steps to Work for the last 4 years primarily as a partner delivering BBO Bridges, however we also have a number of other exciting potential projects in the pipeline; our most recent is the Black Country Futures partnership.

When we first embarked on the Bridges partnership, JST was a very small organisation with a team of 8, and although the management team had some previous experience in previous roles of ESF/BLF there were no current funded projects at JST through these pivotal and prestigious funders.

This could have been daunting for some however, the Steps to Work and the Bridges team were extremely supportive, providing clear guidance and helping us navigate the complexities and requirements of the funders.

The team sets clear, consistent standards for all partners; they monitor performance regularly, and have tight financial management processes to avoid claw-back. This has earned them a reputation to be proud of within the partnership and across the other 3 BBO strands not to mention wider and key statutory organisations.

Partners can rely on and expect clear communication from the team whether this is verbal or in writing. Not afraid to challenge, they have earned the respect of organisations across the partnership. Equally they positively encourage involvement of partners in shaping meetings, organising events, focus groups and taking the lead. For example the celebration event for participants in 2019 was a ‘team’ effort and a resounding success.

Steps to Work are proactive in encouraging partners to ‘think outside of the box’ and identify different ways of working together, or with other partners, for the benefit of participants. There have been numerous examples of this, for example JST’s joint music workshops with NHS Recovery College. This has proven to be an excellent forum to help participants with mental health issues move forward. JST has been nominated and shortlisted for various awards and earned a place in the final 3 at the WMCA 2020 Mayor’s award for mentoring support.

Steps to work recognised that, like them, JST is a ‘can do, will do, dare to care’ organisation, and have provided us with many challenges and opportunities over the last 4 years, all of which we have accepted positively and delivered with pride. Their confidence in us has undoubtedly given us the impetus to grow and diversify and therefore enabled us to help many more people in Dudley and Sandwell in need of support.

We have grown from being a small team of 8 helping hundreds people a year in Dudley, to a team of 23, supporting hundreds more people with complex needs /leading chaotic lives, and delivering a loneliness and isolation initiative which has been a lifeline to many during the current lockdown. We were so impressed and grateful that the Bridges team were so thoughtful to order the whole partnership sneeze screens and hand sanitizers to aid confidence with returning to work post lockdown, but also their constant generous offers of support to the team.

We thank the team at Steps to Work for their confidence in us and for your continued support. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership together.


Bridges is funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery Community Fund