PIPS Newry & Mourne - embracing a culture of collaborative working

More VCSE organisations are strengthening their offer to beneficiaries by working in partnership. This example highlights one organisation working with multiple partners to provide a broader range of services to beneficiaries than it could alone.

Organisational details

The organisation offers a range of services including bereavement support, counselling and crisis intervention. One of its main functions is the provision of suicide prevention training for the community through approved and accredited suicide prevention programs by delivering suicide prevention training.  The organisation also has a drop-in and Protect Life Resource Centre to provide information, encourage people to seek help advice and support, create greater awareness and reduce the stigma associated with suicide and self-harm.   PIPS Newry & Mourne is represented on the Northern Ireland Suicide Prevention Strategy, Protect Life (A Shared Vision), Implementation Body and a number of subgroups that feed into the NI Suicide Prevention Strategy including the Protect Life Implementation Group for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.

Reasons for collaborative working

The organisation believes that it is essential to work collaboratively to help individuals and families that are affected by suicide. Staff members believe that while the organisation offers important services, it cannot provide all the help and support needed by service users. Staff members also believe that in this uncertain economic environment partnership working is the only way forward and that the voluntary and community sector must look at innovative ways to work in partnership more.

“We work in partnership with a wide range of organisations.  Collaborative and partnership working is the only way forward.”
Seamus McCabe, Protect Life Community Development Worker


In 2010 the manager of PIPS Newry & Mourne took the decision to approach a number of organisations that could provide additional support to its clients. The manager contacted organisations identifying PIPS Newry & Mourne, its services and what he hoped to achieve as a result of working collaboratively with these organisations.

“We identified ourselves to the organisations that we wanted to work in collaboration with.”
Seamus McCabe, Protect Life Community Development Worker

Organisation which PIPS Newry & Mourne have established a joint working relationship with includes Lifeline, Care in Crisis, Nexus, Opportunity Youth, Life Spring and Protect Life.  In addition to these organisations both Relate and the Parent Advice Centre approached the development worker at PIPS Newry & Mourne and indicated their interest s in working in partnership.  The organisation established a service level agreement with Life Springs, Relate and the Parent Advice Centre, now staff members from each of these organisations work on a weekly basis in PIPS Newry & Mourne premises with its service users. In exchange, these organisations make a contribution to the running costs of the building. In addition Care in Crisis work with PIPS to deliver a 12 week counselling service in the Newry area.

There is no service level agreement in place with Lifeline however PIPS Newry & Mourne values the relationship it has with Lifeline and believes that working with the organisation is to the benefit of its beneficiaries. The relationship with Nexus differs in that no formal working arrangement was established however in exchange for working within the PIPS premise; Nexus offer PIPS staff and volunteers four training workshops a year which is also offered in the community.  A Lifeline counsellor also works in the PIPS Newry & Mourn premises one day a week. The manager feels that working in partnership with these organisations provides a more holistic service for beneficiaries.

 “These relationships work really well.  Our clients are getting access to other support they need in an environment they feel comfortable in.”
Seamus McCabe, Protect Life Community Development Worker

The organisation hopes to continue to attract new groups to work in partnership with and that through these relationships they will provide its service users with the support they need in exchange for training of staff or contribution to running costs.

As well as working in partnership with other organisations, through its head office PIPS Newry & Mourne works closely with other organisations across the Southern Health and Social Care Trust area and provides training to these organisations and to the community in partnership with them. The development worker at PIPS contacted six organisations to establish this partnership group including the South Armagh Women and Family Health Initiative, Forkhill Women’s Group, Dromintee and Jonesborough community centre, Rural Health Partnership and South Armagh Child Consortium. The group meets every other month to share information and discuss issues such as the cuts in funding, fundraising and partnership working.  These organisations also share funding allocated by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.  As well as meeting these organisations PIPS Newry & Mourne links with them to provide its services in rural communities.

“We know who the gatekeepers are in the area, we provide the service and they provide the location and service users.”
 Seamus McCabe, Protect Life Community Development Worker

Although this relationship has been successful for all parties the development worker for PIPS Newry & Mourne does not know if these organisations will be able to survive the current cuts in public funding. Many of them are funded by slippage money from the trust and when that stops it will be challenging for these organisations to secure funding.

As well as working with these organisations the staff at PIPS Newry & Mourne circulates on information which it receives through its membership at NICVA with organisations that it works with.

“It’s vital to share information with these organisations, we need to work together to reach communities across the Newry & Mourne area.”
Seamus McCabe, Protect Life Community Development Worker 

Every effort is made to ensure that the contents of this document are accurate, but the advice given should not be relied on as a definitive legal statement.