Serving with distinction – the inspiring people we love to partner with…

As the community foundation for Norfolk we are trusted to bridge the gap between those in need and those who can help. In this role, we recognise the distinctive and important part that local charities and community groups play in supporting vulnerable people, building stronger communities and unlocking potential. They are essential partners, helping us to change the world on our doorstep.

We believe that our partners are distinctive in so many ways. And a recent research report* neatly summarises what we believe are the key features of our partners’ distinctiveness:

They have a distinctive service offer – addressing social welfare issues by:

  • Being the ‘first responder’ to newly-emerging needs at a neighbourhood level.
  • Creating spaces where people feel safe, respected and useful and can access services without fear of being stigmatised.
  • Promoting inclusion and belonging by connecting new and established communities to wider opportunities and support.

They have a distinctive approach – important features of the way they work include:

  • Being person-centred and responsive, and built on relationships of trust that create the conditions for long-term engagement.
  • Reaching early and staying longer in their support for disadvantaged groups without affecting their agility and proximity to the community.
  • Having an open door approach so people are not turned away, and have the opportunity to be listened to without fear of judgement.

They have a distinctive position – occupying a space all of their own based on:

  • The extent and nature of their local networks and relationships, which facilitate an extended reach within and between communities.
  • Their stabilising role at a local level, where they are often seen as the ‘glue’ that holds services and communities together.
  • Their advocacy work, in particular at an individual level for people in need of practical help to navigate their way through a crisis or address specific issues.

Often, it is the way that our partners bring all of this together that singles them out from other small charities and community groups. Their contribution often adds up to more than the sum of their parts. And that’s just the way we like them…

* The Value of Small: In-Depth Research into the Distinctive Contributions, Value and Experiences of Small and Medium-Sized Charities in England and Wales, Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, June 2018.