Alex Fox, Shared Lives Plus
What will happen to community groups, charities and social enterprises providing health and social care services during austerity? Today we launch the second phase of the VCSE Review, so have your say.
In one version of the future, it gets increasingly difficult for the hard-pressed statutory sector to find funding for the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector. The statutory sector focuses on its ‘core’ work in most areas, becoming more reactive and less able to aim long term. Everyone continues to hope that more people will volunteer to help and that the system can become more ‘preventative’, but there is little evidence of this.
Collaborating to thrive
In another future, there is no more money to go round, but everyone involved in health and care services works together to plan how to spend it. We all recognise that communities can’t be engaged, nor volunteers recruited, for free; but also that money and the kit, buildings and staff it buys are only one of the resources we need to draw on. Equally important is the contribution of carers, families and communities.
Rather than dividing services into those which are preventative (and therefore harder to justify when difficult choices have to be made) and those which are reactive (and often statutorily mandated), we expect and challenge all health and care interventions to be carried out with regard to their impact upon people’s connections and their informal networks of support. Commissioners use the Social Value Act and other levers to recognise and value interventions which are preventative through building community action and resilience, and developing services which reach excluded and overlooked groups, addressing health inequalities.
Running through local systems are collaboration and co-design with people, communities and the VCSE groups that support them. The VCSE sector is challenged to demonstrate its impact, but has access to the tools to do so. The outcomes being measured reflect the holistic, long term and people-focused values of the sector because the sector has helped to identify them. Charities complain less of a constant battle between staying true to their mission and chasing funding.
Have your say
This more positive future is the one which the many individuals and organisations involved in phase 1 of this Review started to sketch out. But the first future is clearly the one which many fear. An advisory group made up, unusually, of representatives of both the VCSE sector and the government and its key partners, has been developing questions, options and discussion points based upon what we heard during phase 1. This is a unique opportunity to inform thinking about how scarce resources are used to invest in the VCSE sector’s vital work in health and care. Please take it and help us to co-design better investment and partnerships at national level through:
- A discussion paper and survey about the central grants and strategic partners programmes
- A discussion paper on survey about what works and what needs to change in local systems
The health and care systems need a strong, sustainable and cost-effective VCSE sector to deliver health and wellbeing during tough times. Let’s help make that happen.