We wanted to have a really good understanding of all the communities we served and recognised how valuable voluntary and community groups were in helping us to achieve this. We worked closely with many local voluntary and community groups to develop a new way of them working in partnership with us – a way that would involve them in decisions about designing and providing healthcare services – and together, we created the VCSE Alliance.
It’s completely free to become a member and all voluntary groups, charities and social enterprises in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are encouraged to join, no matter how small or big they are!
At the first VCSE Alliance annual conference in May this year, we asked our members what they thought had been going well. Here is just a snapshot of their feedback:
“Good/strong relationships between NHS and VCSE sector”
“We have more recognition – VCSEs are value for money & trusted”
“Opportunities for networking, collaboration and greater impact”
“Groups here represent seldom heard voices from different communities”
“Greater exposure of what is happening (in the local NHS)”
“Increase in referrals for service users”
“We feel part of the co-design”
“The forum is helpful – access to funding opportunities and vacancies”
We hope you would agree that our existing members seem really pleased with the progress of the VCSE Alliance.
There are lots of perks to becoming a member, including:
The VCSE Alliance webspace, which has:
- a VCSE Alliance Directory containing descriptions and contact details of all groups that have joined (181 so far!). Anybody, including members of the public, can register for access to the webspace – at present, there are over 600 people registered who can search the directory and find groups that are interesting or helpful to them.
- an Applications and Opportunities Hub, where we advertise all local NHS funding opportunities. We also advertise opportunities for some of our partners, such as the local councils.
- a Skills and Resources page, where we share information, training and events that might be useful to you.
- a tool for you to send us insights about your community (information that could help us better understand your community’s wants, needs and opinions) that we will save in our Insights, Behaviour and Research Hub. This means that our colleagues in the NHS can access your community insights when they are improving or designing services.
- Access to the VCSE Alliance Forum, where you can communicate with other local voluntary and community groups. You can ask questions; start conversations; share events, opportunities, skills and resources. There are some great examples on the forum of groups working together. We also share useful NHS updates on the forum.
- The exclusive opportunity to bid for funding – the NHS funding opportunities we advertise are only available to VCSE Alliance Members. It’s easy for them to apply for funding because we already have their details from when they joined the VCSE Alliance.
- Monthly newsletters – we update members on all new opportunities, useful health information, and what people have been talking about on the forum.
- Invitations to events and webinars – several times a year, we invite all our members to join us for a face-to-face meeting. Our members value this opportunity to network in-person. We also hold online ‘health update’ sessions to let you know what your local NHS is currently focussed on, and we invite you to join online learning sessions (webinars). We listened to what our members told us they wanted to learn about, so the topics of our upcoming webinars will be:
- How to promote your services to local communities
- How to understand health data to demonstrate impact and need
- How to understand the impact of health inequalities (unfair and avoidable differences in health between different groups of people)
If you like the sound of any of these perks and you want to help your local NHS better understand and serve all communities, please join the VCSE Alliance today!