16th Jan 2020

"Waddington Street Centre has recently been awarded the Trusted Charity Mark (TCM) at Level 1.  We’re absolutely thrilled about this and want to share a little bit about our reasons for going for it and the process we went through. We thought that might help others to decide if it would be right for them.

We’ve always been keen to ensure that people who come to Waddington Street Centre get really good quality support and services. We are approaching our 40th year and we believe that we are still here because we’ve always been motivated to innovate, change and adapt.

In this difficult financial climate, sourcing grants and attracting funding can be a real challenge. Having accreditation through quality marks becomes more important as competition increases. It adds to our credibility. However, more important than this is a charity’s responsibility to be its very best for the sake of its service users.

I think we wanted a new challenge and the opportunity to ‘test ourselves.’  We also knew that we needed to improve on certain operational areas and the audit nature of the Trusted Charity Mark would prompt and require us to audit and develop our current practice.

After a bit of research, we found TCM (Then called PQASSO). It was developed specifically for the voluntary sector by NCVO, so it is relevant and meaningful for us. In the past we’d used Investing in People; absolutely adequate, but not now giving us the challenge we wanted.

We spent about a year gathering, creating and collating the evidence required to meet each of the TCM standards. It is a time consuming process and you do need a devoted team and a clear strategy to get through it. The assessment framework for TCM very much focuses on systems, management and governance, rather than service users’ views and experiences. Different quality mark assess different things; at this time we wanted to look particularly at how we operate.

To achieve the award, you have to upload a variety of evidence to prove you meet the requirements of each standard. The evidence must be as recent as possible and often takes the form of: policies, minutes, correspondence, procedure documents, meeting agendas, annual reports and business development plans. When you successfully pass this part of the process, you are assigned an assessor who visits, interviews pre-selected staff and volunteers and spot checks further pieces of evidence.  You then receive a site visit report, which explains what you have done well and any areas for improvement. We needed to develop 2 areas in order to pass. We were given 6 weeks to provide evidence and then we received the news that we’d passed! Our level 1 award will last for 3 years and then we hope to achieve level 2, which should challenge us further.

We’re very proud to have achieved this and we’ve learned a lot on the journey. The improvements we’ve made will undoubtedly have a positive impact on how we do things and bring real benefits to everyone at Waddington Street.

If you’d like to know more about what TCM offers, please get in touch with us or visit: www.ncvo.org.uk/trustedcharity"

Ali Lee

Centre Manager

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