Aishah Help is a women-led organisation based in East London that supports disadvantaged communities to achieve their personal, social and economic potential. They provide services to Black, Asian and Minority ethnic women (BME) and their families with an aim to increase employability and enterprise.
They have recently been on a journey of 1:1 consultancy support, as part of a package of organisational development support, provided by Action for Race Equality to 19 leaders on the Pathways 2 Economic Opportunities programme by the London Community Foundation, with a philanthropic commitment from JP Morgan Chase. As we approach the end of the programme’s first year, we asked Aishah Help to reflect on the impact of the personalised support being offered.
The pressure and focus on our organisational development is needed. Otherwise, these things would be on the backburner, and I’d be scared to start it because I wouldn’t know where to begin. So, whilst [the consultancy support] is extra work, it has been really supportive; we have a year to really focus on making the changes within the organisation. It’s a good push to really focus on improving in these areas.”Rita Wahid
Managing Director, Aishah Help
We were allocated four days of 1-1 consultancy support, focusing on areas relevant to our organisation’s needs. When meeting with our consultant, we went over a few different things. In terms of organisational development, there were a lot of areas we weren’t doing or really needed to work on. One of the things was that a tracking system for our work hadn’t been in place, because we were totally focussed on service delivery.
So, together, we worked on creating tracking systems and implementing a structure that improved our impact monitoring. The sessions were really useful, especially in having an external opinion provide support and make recommendations, despite it involving an added element of work.
We also developed a structured approach to our governance documents and policy templates to support us in the long term. Previously, we developed policies informally, as and when needed, which effectively created more work for us. Having a policy template and structure will now guide us in developing policies more efficiently.
Culturally competent support
What’s more is that our consultant had been specifically matched to us, and is from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background with lived experience of the issues being faced by our organisations and beneficiaries. When being matched, ARE conducted 1-1 meetings with us to better understand our challenges, staff structure, roles and responsibilities, existing policies and management structure, and sources of funding.
This has made a world of difference:
Workshops and networking
On top of the 1-1 consultancy support, ARE also held workshops to give other groups the space to network and share their experiences and issues. In some cases, a peer-to-peer approach has been used as a model to share knowledge between leaders.
Collaborating with other P2E organisations was very useful for Aishah Help. It was important for us as a charity to establish effective collaborations from the onset to meet the expectations and address the challenges, such as aligning goals, coordinating efforts, and managing relationships.
Through the P2E programme’s targeted workshops, assessments, and tailored consultancy, we have been able to identify and capitalise on our strengths while addressing areas for improvement. It has provided us with the tools, strategies, and insights necessary to navigate the ever-evolving charity sector. ARE’s comprehensive and collaborative approach has empowered our team to embrace change and enhance our leadership capabilities. This has been a transformative experience for our organisation.
Author: Rita Wahid, Managing Director, Aishah Help
About Action for Race Equality’s consultancy services
Action for Race Equality has a track record of working with consultants who have specific areas of expertise, knowledge and skills from diverse backgrounds.
As part of the P2E programme, ARE has expanded our pool of consultants to reflect the areas of support, knowledge and expertise required by the P2E organisations. We provide support in the following areas:
- fundraising and business strategy;
- communications, social media and digital security;
- policy revision and development;
- monitoring and evaluation;
- leadership coaching and governance.
ARE conducted a rigorous process in identifying the support needs for each organisation, and assigned a consultant from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background who could provide this support. At the start of the P2E programme, organisations were asked to complete a baseline self-assessment where they rated themselves against a set of areas including governance and leadership, human resources, operations and organisational management, procedures, systems and infrastructure and programme design, content and delivery.
The culturally competent and personalised support delivered by Action for Race Equality has had a positive impact on 19 funded organisations on the P2E programme. As it heads into its second year, we will be developing workshops that reflect the feedback we have already received and facilitate a platform for organisations to share the existing knowledge.