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In May 2015, the Richmond Group of Charities joined forces with Mind and Public Health England to undertake a project known as Doing the Right Thing. This was borne out of our collective determination to seize the opportunity of the Five Year Forward View (5YFV) and our concern the full potential of the voluntary and community sector to contribute to health and care system transformation has yet to be fully understood and tapped.

Earlier this year we launched our research findings in the report Untapped Potential. This presented evidence that charities are not only doing the right thing by their beneficiaries in terms of improved health and wellbeing, but are also improving productivity and efficiency, which the health and care system desperately needs. 

However, Untapped Potential also raised a challenge: the need for the health and care system to work better with the voluntary and community sector and vice-versa. We want to respond to this challenge and to demonstrate our potential both in theory and in practice. As such, we are delighted to have been invited to launch a practical collaborative project in Somerset.

The Richmond Group, supported by Public Health England, is now working with statutory partners, the South West Academic Health Science Network and the local voluntary and community sector to scope out what a practical collaboration in Somerset will look like.

The scoping work is at an early phase and the focus is on relationship building and developing an understanding of Somerset and its population, the health and social care system and its pressures, and the work already underway in partnership with the voluntary and community sector. We are developing a ‘snapshot’, from which themes are beginning to emerge. These themes will then be developed into more substantial workstreams.

The six-month exploratory stage will run until late March 2017, by which time we expect to have identified a set of practical activities to implement. 

While no decisions have been made as to the exact shape or scope of this work, the ambition is not to invest in small-scale pilots or experimentation, but rather to invest in new ways of working for entire cohorts of people across the whole of Somerset.

Our aim is to demonstrate that a strategic partnership between the statutory and the voluntary and community sector, with more collaborative design and delivery of services across and within the two sectors at scale, will lead to better outcomes for people living with long term conditions and will reduce demand on medical services.

In order to achieve these aims we have appointed Aimie Cole and Chloë Reeves to lead this project on a local and national level.

  • Aimie Cole has come to us from the NPC Associates Programme, and has a background in HM Treasury and the charity sector. Aimie is working locally in Somerset to scope out and develop potential partnerships between voluntary and community organisations and the health system. For more information please contact Aimie on aimiecole@mac.com.

  • Chloë Reeves has come to us from the British Red Cross, and has a background in adult social services and developing NHS practice guidance. She provides national support to this project, managing and supporting the steering group, and disseminating the insights gained in Somerset on a regional and national level. For more information please contact Chloë on chloe@londonroad.ltd.