Become a Cascading Leadership partner

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Cascading Leadership is a free peer-to-peer leadership development programme for voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations working in health and wellbeing. It enables VCS leaders to share their extensive and varied expertise with peers, to talk about some of the challenges they face and to plan new ways of working.

This page provides information on the role of a Cascading Leadership partner. If you have any questions, please email the programme team

Cliciwch yma i weld y wybodaeth hon yn Gymraeg 

Could I be a partner?

If you have leadership responsibility for a service that supports the health and wellbeing of your community but would value some support, this could be for you. 

You might:

  • be leading an established organisation but are new in role or just feeling stuck or unsupported 
  • be struggling to address the gap between how you want to work with your team, volunteers, trustees or funders and how things are in reality
  • want to talk confidentially about your experience of developing or leading an organisation, working with another leader who can listen and help you think, unblock issues and plan
  • have identified an emerging or growing need in your community and be starting to develop new work or pioneer new ways of thinking.
Cascading Leadership has been transformative for many of the partners who feel better equipped to lead their organisations effectively and strategically.
External evaluation 2018

What will I do? 

If you are selected as a Cascading Leadership partner, you will attend an introductory day at The King’s Fund with the other partners in your group. You will learn more about the programme and about the skills you will need to get the most from your partner role. You will also have an opportunity to hear from previous participants. At the end of the day, you will be matched with a consultant, who will meet with you at least five times over a nine-month period.

In these meetings, you will work with your consultant on issues that you have identified. These might include your relationship with your board, how you lead your team, how you manage difficult relationships or situations. The consultant will help you reflect on what might be going on, support you to develop different perspectives and come up with new things to try.

My name is Joseph Jeffers, I'm the Chief Executive of ASKI, Advice Support Knowledge Information, and we're a charity based in Croydon working with people over the ages of 55.  

What attracted me to the Cascading Leadership programme was that it felt it was right for me at that particular point in time. The organisation was going through a significant change and we needed something to happen to take it to the next level. I think because it was The King's Fund and it was renowned ,I also felt that the training would be of high quality and also funders would actually think of it as valuable.  

Being a partner is very different from other programmes. You're not going to meet the person to get answers to problems, you're not going there for them to sort out your funding applications, you're going there with maybe something which is about you as a person and how your work will impact on the organisation as a whole.  

There were some really quick wins, if you like. One of the things that it encouraged me to do was to actually finish the business plan and finish the organisational strategy and I think once they were done it then became clear we needed to actually recruit new trustees. The way we recruited trustees was based on what I had actually learnt. Rather than just going by CV I wanted to know what people could bring to the organisation. Overall what it did really quickly was allow us as a small charity to actually punch above our weight, using existing skills and not spending any additional funds, which is something board members love.

So if you're thinking of doing the programme be really clear what it is you actually want to get out of it. It is going to be challenging but it is an opportunity for you to spend some time on yourself and that's often something lacking in the voluntary sector. I had reservations but they were immediately put aside when I met staff at The King's Fund; they made you feel welcome, and I guess one of my fears was would I get lost because we were a small charity - in fact it was the opposite, because people were impressed with what we did with so little.  

I think it would have been very easy just to say, "Well it's another application and it's going to take me away from my work."  What I now realise is that it has brought me back to my work but in a way that I can actually do more and actually, at the same time, look after myself and my mental health while I'm actually doing that work.  

How will I benefit?

An independent external evaluation of the Cascading Leadership programme has found significant benefits for partners, including: more strategic thinking and better decision-making, tackling challenging issues more effectively and reduced isolation.

I would say it is a fantastic opportunity… we don’t big ourselves up enough in the VCS and we have some amazing people. The skills you learn on Cascading Leadership are invaluable.
Partner 2019
Overall it made us go from a small charity to almost punching above our weight.
Partner 2019
She asked brilliant questions that made me think differently. That was really valuable.
Partner 2019
We spent time exploring the issues that were going on for me as a Chief Executive within my organisation, but also within the sector and it was great to have the time to really think about those issues, to really dig a bit deeper and reflect on what was happening.
Partner 2019

Programme details

The consultant–partner meeting dates and locations will be agreed by the two participants.  

How much does it cost?

There is no charge to take part in this programme, which is being funded by The National Lottery Community Fund. A partner’s place is valued at £1,600, based on training that you will receive from The King’s Fund, plus other benefits such as travel and accommodation. This does not include the monetary value of the meetings with your consultant.  

How much time would I have to commit?

Partners attend one learning day at The King’s Fund. After being matched with a consultant, the pairs meet five times over a nine-month period. Each meeting should last up to two hours. The consultant will usually travel to the partner’s organisations, but you can agree to meet somewhere else if convenient. Some sessions may take place over Skype.