‘Working in partnership to transform society through education’ is the inspirational mission statement of our Faculty of Education. But what can and does ‘working in partnership’ mean in practice? This paper outlines a partnership development story with a charity and a university Faculty. There is limited research surrounding academic partnerships with social enterprises, although no shortage of claims to be ‘working in partnership’. This is a research informed review of a social and emotional learning partnership between the charity Family Links and Canterbury Christ Church University which we suggest has had a profound and positive impact on individuals and organisations. We draw on theory based partnership evaluation frameworks and partnership review data, including filmed interviews with project participants, training evaluations and action research case studies to tell this story and discuss the processes, benefits and challenges of our partnership. The impact of key actors’ personal responses to participation and subsequent empowerment as agents of change is highlighted. The active nurturing of emotional leaders and agreeing and reviewing protocols at all levels are key review recommendations. The complexity of measuring improved wellbeing outcomes for learning communities as a desired goal is also highlighted.