Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Become an OU student

Download this course

Share this free course

Collaborative leadership in voluntary organisations
Collaborative leadership in voluntary organisations

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

2.2 A service user perspective

Eight paper dolls holding hands in a joined up circle.
Figure 3 Joining up

Communities and individuals facing complex challenges expect organisations to provide services which are ‘joined-up’, rather than fragmented and disjointed. For example, when facing the challenges of complex healthcare situations, no one wants to spend time negotiating organisational boundaries. From a service user perspective, the most important thing is to be able to access services without jumping over multiple organisational hurdles.

Activity 2 Joined-up services

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

Read the article, ‘Light bulb moment: Barbara Gelb on joined up thinking [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] ’ (Gelb, 2016), in which a chief executive of a voluntary organisation describes how she realised the importance of joining up services across organisational boundaries when she met the parent of a dying child.

In your learning journal write about an experience you, a member of your family or someone you know has had (or draw on an example you have seen in the media), when engaging with services that don’t join up. You might want to think here about accessing a package of care for an older person or a child with a disability; or having to complete two lots of paperwork with identical information for the purposes of reporting to different parts of the state system – or any other area of life where services don’t appear to talk to each other. How did this make you feel? Make sure you title the post with the week number and the number of this activity, Week 6 Activity 2.


Most of us would agree − service users and carers should not have to negotiate the minefield of services delivered by different organisations. Indeed, there have been many attempts to integrate services across organisational boundaries through service co-location, one-stop shops, shared referral mechanisms and other attempts to ‘hide the wiring’ behind service delivery. However, many of us know from experience that the challenges of accessing integrated services across organisational boundaries continue in spite of the endeavours of collaborating organisations and successive governments. Why is collaboration across organisational boundaries so difficult? And what kind of leadership makes things happen in these collaborative contexts?