The community group’s story
The Care Forum Voluntary Sector Service ran an event jointly with CVS South Gloucestershire to explore how voluntary and community sector organisations can demonstrate their social value and how social value can be built into service level agreements. This provided an opportunity for VCSE organisations to get an overview of the current financial landscape and challenges, and also provided a safe space for VCSE organisations to discuss more creative approaches to monitoring and evaluation. The organisations who attended said:
“Thank you it was great to cover this theme I’m more fired up to fight for changing times ahead”
“The delivery was fantastic I thoroughly enjoyed it and have learned so much thank you team”
The voluntary and community sector story
In Bath and North East Somerset a group of local providers began discussing ways in which they could collaborate more around mental health services. They called their idea ‘the Mental Health Alliance’. The organisations, including Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, Sirona Care and Health, Bath Emergency Medical Service, DHI and the Research Institute for the Care of Older People (RICE), were the core group of this idea.
When core group members came to talk about their ideas to a wider group of mental health organisations it became clear that although everyone thought it was a good idea to collaborate they were worried about how it would work in practice. Smaller groups in particular were concerned about how it might affect them. The Care Forum offered to run a network meeting to enable groups to look at the ideas in more detail and to talk about how they felt the idea of a Mental Health Alliance could be developed fairly and effectively, and how all groups could be represented fairly on the core group. Lots of organisations came to the meeting, coming up with many interesting ideas.
When the report from the network meeting was fed back to the core group they agreed with organisations’ ideas that it would help for the Alliance, and representation on the core group, to be coordinated and chaired independently. They asked The Care Forum to do this on behalf of the Alliance. Now, The Care Forum is going to run network meetings for mental health voluntary organisations, chair the core group meetings and support representation on the core group. The Care Forum will also be making sure that all the plans for the Alliance are co-produced.
Feedback from the Network meeting:
“Great to get all together in one room and share thoughts and hear what others are feeling. Now make it count! Nice structure too…Thanks for the opportunity to have this valuable input.”
“Brilliantly facilitated… Very valuable conversation. Still lots of questions!”
“Great – thanks – good opportunity to feed-back openly.”
My name is Fynn Clarke. I am a service manager for criminal justice services for Voluntary Sector organisation – Julian House and I represent the voluntary sector in South Gloucestershire on the Avon and Somerset Criminal Justice Group.
I was asked to take forward a question by a colleague at an organisation who support people with disabilities. The question requested clarification of policing strategy in regard to effective prevention of the phenomena of ‘mate crime’, where criminals pretend to befriend people with learning disabilities in order to exploit them.’
After a period of familiarisation with the agenda and meeting business which encompassed many areas of my support working with offenders and vulnerable clients, I addressed the question to the group. Following this a senior police officer responded to myself and the colleague who raised the question. I was later informed by this colleague that police and statutory and voluntary sector organisations are developing an effective multi agency strategy and action plan to tackle this specific crime including the issue being further raised at a specific area multi agency hate crime forum for which I received an invitation to attend.
I derived a good of satisfaction from attending as the voluntary rep and the above example demonstrates the degree with which voluntary sector agencies are valued and taken seriously by statutory agencies within specific forums, as this has not always been my experience when I started in this line of work 15 years ago. I found the preparation I received from James and Alex at The Care Forum was excellent.
How do you make sure organisations views and experiences are taken into account?
Local organisations know a lot about the needs of the communities they work with, including what is working well and what could be better. We believe it is important for this local knowledge to influence the design and delivery of health and social care services. We support staff from organisations, large and small, to represent the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector on a variety of local committees and boards. Representatives champion the voice of local organisations and share relevant information from the meetings they attend to help keep everyone up to date.
There have been changes afoot at The Care Forum in the structure of the Voluntary Sector Services team. The team is now structured as follows:
Team Manager – Ronnie Wright, firstname.lastname@example.org
Engagement Officer, West of England – James Picardo, email@example.com
VSS Development Officer, Community Navigator Project – Louise Spencer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bristol Ageing Better Project Officer, Greater Fishponds – Claire Littlejohn, email@example.com
We look forward to continuing to support voluntary, community and social enterprise sector organisations to work together with each other and other sectors to improve health and social care across the West of England.