EXCLUSIVE: Sense Scotland quits partnership with Enable

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Andy Kerr and Theresa Shearer.

Hailed as reshaping care in the third sector, Sense has left just six months into the partnership

13th September 2019 by Robert Armour 13 Comments

Sense Scotland has quit its partnership with Enable Scotland.

In April the two care giants joined to form the Piper Group with a combined income of £61 million.

Now just six months later, Sense Scotland said its trustees would withdraw from the partnership.

However, former MSP Andy Kerr, who was formerly chief executive of Sense Scotland, will remain in post as chief operating officer while Theresa Shearer remains group chief executive. 

The move means that both Sense Scotland and Enable Scotland will be separate entities with Enable the only member of the Piper Group.

A spokesperson for Sense Scotland said: “Sense Scotland Trustees, supported by beneficiaries, have made the difficult decision to withdraw from the Piper Group.

“Both organisations share common aspirations to provide the best possible care and support for people with disabilities – a vision which has never been in doubt.

“Both boards will work closely together to ensure a smooth and timely withdrawal and wish each other well with future ventures.”

The partnership was hailed as potentially changing the landscape of the third sector in Scotland.

Both charities retained their distinctive brands and missions but the Piper Group shared resources and oversaw back office functions including the IT, HR, learning and development, digital, finance and payroll departments for both charities.

A spokesperson for the Piper Group said: “Enable Scotland and Sense Scotland have been collaborating for more than 18 months, and since the official launch of the Piper Group in April we have already achieved many positive outcomes for our charitable beneficiaries, charities and workforce.

“The Sense Scotland Board has decided to leave the Piper Group. Whilst we are disappointed by this, we will continue to place the interests of the people supported at the heart of everything we do.

“We remain committed to the group structure as the right way to deliver sustainable frontline social care services.

“The Piper Group will continue to work to boost the quality of care and support for disabled people and their families across Scotland."

The partnership took one year to organise and the group estimates it will save £10m across the two charities.

Last year, Enable Scotland had an income of £39.3m while Sense Scotland has an income of £21.6m.

There were no compulsory redundancies caused by the partnership, which has its HQ in Enable Scotland’s' office at Eurocentral.

At the time the group said this could be the first of a series of future partnerships as the new Piper Group was open to other organisations who might wish to join.

PLEASE NOTE: comments on this story are now closed.

14th September 2019 by Disgruntled

I’ve read a lot of posturing about this process over the last couple of years. How much charitable and fund raised money has been spent on this? Surely a resigning matter now that the group has two CEOs?

14th September 2019 by Astonished

Interesting to see what OSCR and charity commission make of this and the activities and decisions that led up to it . Also, what do Robertson Trust think ........

14th September 2019 by Not Surprised

It will be interesting if any comments remain on this comments board as the CEO is a Vice Convener of SCVO. This story does not reflect what it has been like to work in this organisation over the last 6 months. TFN are you impartial?

14th September 2019 by Staff member

not surprising. An attempted enable takeover of sense disguised as a "charity partnership". hopefully sense get their charity back and enable can shake off this awful culture they have foisted upon them by the great leader.

15th September 2019 by Needs looked at

“ some months we’ve been underpaid and one month we were paid late “ .......chaos , toxic culture and senior leadership .....all very unsettling and stressful . This is about individual egos . Hope this gets investigated and the truth told

15th September 2019 by Neutral

Should've worked and could've worked. Badly run project from the start with all the attention on getting it over the deadline with no afterthought. Not sure who is more relieved at this divorce

15th September 2019 by concerned citizen

For the amount of salt in these comments you could cover the roads all over scotland for winter! Both sides made mistakes and to be FRANK I always gave it the THUMBS up for what it was trying to do. Such a shame both sides could work together to provide improved services for the people they are trying to support.

15th September 2019 by Gutted

I’m shocked at the tone of a few of the comments and feel compelled to try to balance things a bit. In our team things were going well and the benefits of partnership were already apparent. Yes, we knew there was a lot of work to do yet, and felt that there had been a slow down in the process of rationalising terms and conditions etc. But we remained totally committed to the model and the vision. I’m really sad that the Sense trustees couldn’t see the potential.

15th September 2019 by Questions need to be asked

This model had such potential to succeed so something, somewhere has gone badly wrong. Lessons must be learned from this and shared openly so that any future endeavours do not meet the same end. It seems a lot of time and money were put into this and so questions must be asked - why did the board of Sense feel the need to withdraw? And who will answer for the failure of the partnership? Will Sense survive on its own? How can a 'group' operate with a single member? How will people supported be affected by this? How will staff be affected?

15th September 2019 by A real shame...

The partnership between both organizations had a real opportunity to shape things up in the third sector, a much needed reform! It’s unfortunate that Sense Trustees didn’t have the foresight to see what could be gained from this. Of course there was going to be some teething issues, as with any integration but to pull so early given the level of work and effort of both organisations to get them where they need to be in the current climate is beyond me. I really hope that whatever legal/ financial advice they have received substantiates their decision to withdraw

16th September 2019 by Worried

just hope our jobs in the piper group are safe. After all piper group was the shared central services for finance,hr and ict. Now theres onky Enable remaining there is no shared central service

17th September 2019 by Sense employee

From a Sense Scotland perspective this ‘partnership’ was indeed a takeover by Enable, bringing with it a ‘cloak and dagger’ toxic culture. New I.T. Systems imposed were predominantly introduced for monitoring and surveillance of staff. In essence Sense Scotland was being daily outstripped of quality, trust and identity affecting everyone we support.

17th September 2019 by Good luck

Looking at all the comments here and on Twitter, this is surely about personalities. Good idea, wrong leaders. No credibility left for this venture. What a waste of money.