One of the things the SpeakUp Forum sets out to do is to “enable the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) and the public sector to share knowledge, insights, and perspectives”. Throughout the year, the SpeakUp Forum has initiated and engaged in a variety of activities designed to help this happen.
At every SpeakUp Forum meeting this year – and at a number of SpeakUp’s VCS Alliance Development working group meetings – we have had public sector colleagues from East Sussex Better Together (ESBT) and Connecting 4 You (C4Y) join us to discuss different components of our nascent East Sussex health and care systems. With the discussion of locality working at November’s SpeakUp meeting, we had successfully enabled the sharing of perspectives between the VCS and the public sector on all key ESBT and C4Y components. Although dialogue will of course be ongoing, these initial conversations were valuable for all concerned, and together have allowed those involved from both sectors to build a more integrated and holistic picture of the changes, aspirations, and risks across the whole system. Key components discussed together have been:
· Broad framework for strategic and locality planning;
· Commissioning intentions and models;
· Service area priorities;
· Provider forums;
· Accountable Care intentions and developments;
· VCS Alliance intentions and developments;
· Locality networks and locality planning and design groups;
· Planning and design groups / operational delivery groups;
· Collaborative stakeholder group;
· Programme boards / whole system overview and planning structures.
Not only is the sharing of perspectives valuable in itself, a number of additional positive outcomes and opportunities have come about as the result of these discussions, including:
· Securing SpeakUp representation on the C4Y Programme Board;
· Securing SpeakUp representation on the Community Services Planning and Design Group;
· SpeakUp deciding to apply to have a specific SpeakUp representative on the Collaborative Stakeholder Group (to bring in countywide, whole sector and systems perspectives – rather than the potentially narrower perspective of other VCS service providers or community representatives) and were successful in this application;
· Recognising a gap in VCS arrangements in terms of coordinating VCS service offers, and now actively working towards filling this gap (with public sector colleagues, and VCS colleagues outside of SpeakUp);
· SpeakUp initiating a cross-sector Task & Finish Group with ESBT colleagues to focus on improving VCS engagement in whole system strategic planning for ESBT.
These outcomes highlight the important contribution that SpeakUp is making towards our high-level
strategic aims of improving VCS and public sector ability to work together. SpeakUp has enabled cross-sector sharing of knowledge and perspectives at SpeakUp Forum meetings, in the VCS Alliance Development working group, and in smaller follow-up meetings and conversations. This has helped both sectors to identify where there are gaps in arrangements that are detrimental to our abilities to work together, and to engage in joint action to make improvements. There is still much to be done but the SpeakUp Forum will continue bringing together key players in the VCS and the public sector to work together and design a health and care system that is good for beneficiaries in East Sussex.