Mencap Liverpool & Sefton (MLS) is a small charity working with adults who have mild to moderate learning disability in Liverpool and Sefton. It specifically targets those who are at risk of falling through the growing gaps between mainstream services and statutory learning disability specific services. When it came to Pilotlight, Mencap Liverpool was in the process of merging with the volunteer-run, unincorporated charity South Sefton Mencap, to become Mencap Liverpool & Sefton.
MLS came to the Pilotlight Programme through winning a Weston Charity Award. The organisation was facing an increasing level of need while already operating at capacity. It wanted to do more while also becoming more sustainable. The organisation was about to merge with Mencap Sefton, which would increase the organisation’s capacity by acquiring a new building. At the same time, there were vulnerabilities within the staff team that needed to be addressed, exacerbated by the uncertainty of year-to-year funding. Sarah Jones, CEO, wanted help to make the most out of the merger and develop a workable strategic plan.
What we did
Over the first few meetings the Pilotlighters spent time getting to know the charity and its stakeholders. The team identified key issues and opportunities, particularly a significant key person risk on the CEO. As the merger had almost been completed, the plan was to review the strategy and adjust it to the new organisation. In parallel, the team assessed the staff structure, and the Pilotlighters made recommendations to reduce this key person risk. Sarah went onto implement this by developing the position of Fundraising Manager into a deputy CEO position.
Although the merger initially looked like just a takeover of a building, it turned out to be more than that: the accompanying change meant MLS’s structure needed to be explored as well as how this would change the staff culture. Flexing to the developing situation, the rest of the project focused on HR and staffing issues that unravelled in the wake of the merger. The Pilotlighters supported Sarah to think through how to rebuild and restructure the organisation to fit its new identity.
The Pilotlight Programme exceeded my expectations and has been an invaluable process for me. I’ve been blessed with a great team of Pilotlighters. I’m not sure if I’d still be CEO without the Pilotlight Programme.
CEO, Mencap Liverpool & Sefton
By the end of the project many issues hadn’t been fully resolved. However, Sarah reflected that there was a much greater awareness within the organisation about where gaps were and how to address them going forward. MLS had gone through a crisis, and the support of the Pilotlighters had been crucial to managing this constructively.