What does it take to be a good “lead partner”?

October 10, 2022

Oliver Hilbery, director of the MEAM coalition, reflects on recent work with Second Step about what it means to be a successful “lead partner”.

Tackling multiple disadvantage requires a system-wide approach based on strong local partnerships. It goes without saying that no single organisation can address the issue alone.

Despite this, for a range of practical, financial and legal reasons many funding initiatives still require a “lead partner” to hold the funding and be accountable for the work. Having a single lead can risk causing inequity in local partnerships and can limit the chances of systemic change. However, when required and if done well, the role of lead partner can also become an enabling factor in work to improve services and systems for people facing multiple disadvantage.

Recently, MEAM were asked to work with Second Step to explore their role as lead partner in the Golden Key programme in Bristol. From this piece of work we identified a set of ten ‘criteria for success’, considered to have impact, relevance and transferability for future partnership programmes.

The criteria cover a range of issues including: the recruitment process for lead partners; the involvement of people with lived experience; the balance between delivery and system change; and how to enable a process of “systems governance” rather than “organisational governance” in partnership structures.

Read the full blog in Golden Key’s website and download the learning paper.