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Refreshing the SpeakUp Forum

May 8, 2017

The health and social care landscape in East Sussex is going through a period of extensive change as East Sussex Better Together and Connecting for You are implemented. In the light of this, East Sussex County Council (ESCC) asked us to review the purpose and function of SpeakUp to ensure that it was well equipped and structured to respond to these changes. The purpose of the refresh was to design a refreshed model for the SpeakUp Forum and develop a shared understanding of SpeakUp’s vision, aims, objectives and operations.

The process was discussed and agreed at all stages with both ESCC and SpeakUp members. It was agreed with ESCC and SpeakUp members that the refreshed model would need to:

  • Take into account the needs and priorities of the wider VCS at a strategic and local level; and

  • Ensure that SpeakUp is able to respond appropriately to the priorities of the public sector.

We also agreed a process to do this:

  • Review and redefine SpeakUp’s four areas of work (representation, information sharing, partnership working, networking).

  • Define clear objectives for each area of work.

  • Identify what both sectors need to do to help this process.

  • Develop a clear plan to implement the new model.


A first, externally facilitated, workshop was held at the end of October 2016. This was a joint workshop with 14 members of SpeakUp and six representatives from ESCC, including those from Adult Social Care & Health, Children’s Services, Third Sector Policy, and Connecting 4 You. This workshop reviewed the aims and vision of SpeakUp, looked at what worked and what did not work, and SpeakUp’s values and guiding principles. Through using key words and discussions, participants were able to start developing a common understanding of what it means to ‘develop a voice for the voluntary sector’ and ‘facilitate engagement with the statutory sector’. The group discussed what supports SpeakUp in achieving that purpose – for example commitment to making SpeakUp work, a positive approach to working collaboratively, and having structured discussions around issues. There was also an honest and open discussion about barriers to SpeakUp achieving its purpose. These included concerns about how SpeakUp can influence the agenda, how the voluntary and community sector can feed into the statutory sector’s structures and processes more effectively, and a lack of clarity about the role of representatives and their relationship with the wider voluntary and community sector.


A second workshop was held with SpeakUp members in December 2016, following a short online survey. This focused on understanding ‘representation’ and ‘influence’ – who they represent at meetings and how they relate to other organisations. The members came up with a list of action points to bring about clarity and change where needed.


A final joint workshop, again with representatives from SpeakUp and public sector colleagues, was held in January 2017 to agree the final vision and mission for SpeakUp. A draft set of guiding principles and strategic aims were also discussed and adaptations suggested. The refresh process, which involved all SpeakUp members and a total of eight public sector colleagues, allowed those involved to have an honest and open dialogue about what they wanted a SpeakUp Forum to achieve, what worked and what barriers needed to be overcome, as well as to develop a common understanding of what representation means. It has identified areas for change which SpeakUp staff will ensure are acted upon, and made adjustments to the Forum’s vision and mission which will enable SpeakUp to better engage and work alongside its statutory partners.


Our new vision, mission, strategic aims and guiding principles are here

And our new operating model is here!

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