Alba provides research, facilitation, management support to the public and third sector and is run by me, Julia Stafford, bringing sixteen years of experience as an independent consultant. Previously I was a Regional Director of a national voluntary sector organisation, and prior to that in local government.
Depending on the nature and scale of the commission, I work alone or bring together a team of suitably experienced associates. I prefer to work collaboratively with clients, agreeing with them their involvement in the work from the outset.
The nature of my work has varied over the years, reflecting the changing needs of the sector. Currently the majority of my work includes:
- Strategic planning: helping organisations to take a long-term perspective on their work; appraising the operating environment including competitors and collaborators; and identifying key strategic objectives for the medium to long term.
- Business planning: developing practical plans to deliver on strategic objectives, including resource requirements; financial plans; income generation; marketing; and systems for review.
- Collaboration and merger: appraising the options for collaboration, including merger; developing staffing and governance structures accordingly.
- Governance: undertaking Board reviews; producing development plans; and providing training for Trustees to improve their effectiveness.
- Management support: providing coaching and mentoring to managers, both new and experienced, especially through periods of organisational change.
- Evaluation: combining quantitative and qualitative research methods, drawing out lessons for service improvement and development; I present complex findings in accessible format.
I work primarily with small to medium sized voluntary sector organisations, including infrastructure organisations and local branches of national bodies.
Recent clients include Vision North Somerset; British Red Cross; Birmingham Voluntary Service Council; The Door Youth Project; Quaker Action on Alcohol and Drugs; Bristol Green Capital Partnership; Bristol Energy Network CIC; Wight DASH; Sandwell Council for Voluntary Organisations; Key Steps; CHAS Bristol; Creative Black Country.
LLB Hons (Bachelor of Law) and MSc in Applied Social Studies (with Distinction)
Recent experience includes:
- Facilitating a Board Away Day for Sandwell Council for Voluntary Organisations to reflect on the organisation’s achievement over the previous year; assess the operating environment and its contribution to other local strategies; review and refresh its strategic; and assess its governance.
- A three-year strategic plan for Wight DASH, an organisation supporting women experiencing multiple disadvantage, including survivors of domestic violence and abuse. This involved desk research and two workshops, one with staff and one with trustees.
- A sustainability review for a CHAS, a small housing advice service in Bristol, exploring its options for sustainability including service development, co-location, sharing back office services and merger. This involved a document review, stakeholder interviews, and a trustee and staff workshop.
- A marketing strategy for Key Steps, a small VCS organisation providing support to homeless people in Weston super Mare. This involved a series of workshops with staff and trustees and the outputs included a ‘library’ of marketing resource materials.
- Preparing a three-year business plan for Womankind Bristol, involving a workshop with trustees, staff and volunteers; and interviews with the Director.
- Evaluating Ageing with Pride, a campaign to prevent loneliness amongst older members of the LGBT community. Commissioned by Birmingham Voluntary Services Council, this included an online survey, interviews and focus groups.
- Evaluation of an Assisted Discharge Service from Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton for British Red Cross. These involved quantitative and qualitative methodologies and calculating the service’s value for money, in order to provide a business case for continued funding.
- A two-year formative evaluation of Bags of Ability, a children’s literacy project, for Mencap, which included surveying parents and observing pilot sessions. Being involved from the beginning we were able to develop and implement appropriate monitoring tools and systems, both quantitative and qualitative.