iDream Alliance

The iDream Alliance in Lambeth provides truly innovative support for young people affected by drug and alcohol. The initiative has been led by Helen Sharp, Commissioning Manager at Lambeth Council, who has expertly brought together three complementary elements: co-production, asset based approaches including appreciative enquiry, and alliancing. We are delighted to have been a small part in making this exciting project happen.

Why alliance contracting was chosen

The move from external specialist services which focus on ‘problems to be addressed’ to local community providers who champion people’s assets has been a bold move. It fits with Lambeth Council’s values and beliefs. It is the same values and desire to promote collaboration that led them to choose alliance contracting when procuring the new service.

The alliance

The iDream alliance is made up of 6 providers who are all established in the local community. They provide a wide range of arts and media opportunities with youth work and support.

Following a market engagement event in November 2014, Helen and her team invited bids from alliances of providers to deliver innovative services for young people affected by substance misuse. The preferred bidder was selected in Feb and the service commenced in April 2015.

What changed for people

The first year of the iDream Alliance is being evaluated by University of Brighton in partnership with BoingBoing using a Values Creation Framework. We will add links here when information becomes available.

Our approach

Linda Hutchinson and Suzanne Novak provided advice and facilitation to Helen throughout the procurement. Our involvement was less than in other assignments, reflecting the expertise of Lambeth Council’s children’s team in collaborative contracting. Read more by clicking on LH Alliances Input below

“Working with LH Alliances gave us the courage and know-how to take alliance contracting forward. This approach is little-known in Lambeth and there was some resistance from providers. Without the advice and support of LH Alliance, these barriers would have had much more impact on us and we may not have managed to retain our vision. In particular, Linda and Suzanne’s enthusiasm for the project was only matched by our own and I believe, together, we made it happen.”

Helen Sharp, Strategic Commissioning Manager, Lambeth Council

Development of the Alliance


Previous engagement with young people through a co-design period had clearly demonstrated the kinds of services young people want and would engage with as well as those they would not. This convinced the commissioners to move away from appointment based ‘specialist’ health and care services to ones that were locally based, focused on enriching and developing talents and were flexible in the way they engage.

The Council had a set of outcomes that had previously been co-produced with young people ensuring that they mattered to all. They also had a set of values that they would expect the alliance to work to.

A market engagement event was held in advance of the procurement. This was important to help providers meet each other and start forming alliances. It also provided  information about alliancing and the alliance contract and the capabilities that the Council sought.


The selection criteria for the procurement ensured that the winning bid would be made up of providers who had business and organisational aims that aligned with those of the initiative as well as the skills to deliver.

A number of bids were received with two going forward to the face-to-face element of the selection process.


Once the preferred bid was confirmed, the detail of the service design and implementation was finalised and the contract signed.


The new services went live on 1 April 2015. The first year will see the full implementation and will be evaluated for its continued potential to change young people’s lives.

LH Alliances input

We helped Helen and her colleagues by:


  • Advising on overall sequence and phasing for developing the alliance
  • Advising on procurement design including selection criteria and face-to-face element.
  • Advising on governance for the alliance once live


  • Facilitating discussion about alliance contracting at market engagement event


  • Providing draft documentation for procurement and contract
  • Flexing our input to fit in with existing skills available to the Council

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