VCSE Health Alliance – Update Bulletin – February 2024

February 2024

Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Voluntary Sector Network

(Formerly the VCSE Health Alliance)

New name and new steering group

You’ll notice the new name at the top of this bulletin, we are now the ‘Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Voluntary Sector Network; Together for Healthier Communities’. Please bear with us as we go through the changeover period; we’ll be updating the webpage and producing some new publicity materials with our new brand.

Not only do we have a new name, but we also have merged our Partnership Development Group and our Representatives Group to form a new Steering Group. This group will make key decisions, work alongside members, and be responsible for leading our strategic review later this year.

January’s Health Alliance meeting

We were delighted to have a good number of members join us at March Library for our January meeting. Andrea gave us an overview of how the Integrated Care Board, Integrated Care System and Integrated Care Partnership work. We discussed how the voluntary sector fits with this and how we can increase our profile. Learn more about this by watching Kit Connick’s last year’s explanation to a Trustee session.

The meeting also heard from Michael at Cambridge CAB about how the Health Alliance data project is progressing and from Health Alliance reps about the work they have been doing. Our next meeting is online and will focus on building partnerships and consortia. See below. We hope to have more information about our community grant scheme very soon.

Raising the profile of the voluntary sector

The template for the ICB internal and external newsletters has been circulated to our members. Please do take up the offer. The more that we can showcase the fabulous work of the sector the more we can build knowledge and awareness of our value across statutory partners. Keep up with all the news from our ICB by signing up for their newsletters here. Debbie can send you the template if you missed it the first time around.

Quality workshops

Thank you to everyone who has signed up for our quality workshops. There are still places available for the Ely workshop on 15th February. We are offering £200 for attendance and preparation. Please note that this will be paid to your organisation. Contact Debbie to book your place.

At the workshops, we will assess our maturity using a Quality Development Tool, a process developed by our sector with support from NHS England. The main point of this is to co-produce an action plan that will take our Network to the next level of development.

Health and Wellbeing Network

February’s Health and Wellbeing Network will have a digital focus. With the increased use of digital communications and the changeover of landlines to digital by the end of 2025, what impact will this have on the people we support? Will Plant (CCC Digital Strategy), Karen Igho (Healthwatch community researchers’ findings) and Rosie Veitch (library services) will discuss the current picture and the support/options that are available. Book your place here for 13th February:

Health Alliance meetings

Here are the dates of our future meetings, please put them in your diary. If you would like to suggest a theme please contact We are also keen to get members to Co-Chair meetings on their theme of interest.

  • 28th February 9.30-11.30 Building partnerships Zoom
  • 17th April 1-3 Health Alliance business Peterborough
  • 22nd May 10-12 Theme St Ives Corn Exchange
  • 26th June 1-3 Health Alliance business Zoom
  • 24th July 1-3 Theme In person venue TBC
  • 11th Sept 9.30-11.30 Health Alliance business Zoom
  • 16th October 10-12 In person TBC
  • 13th November 1-3 pm Health Alliance business Zoom
  • 11th December 9.30-11.30 Zoom

See here for more information about the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Health Alliance. You can also find the notes from the January Health Alliance meeting on this page.

Spread the word!

Last but not least, please pass this newsletter on to your team and other groups and organisations who may not yet be Health Alliance members. Anyone wishing to join should email Debbie

Greene King IPA / Proud to Pitch In/1 Nov 2024

Grants available:  up to £ 4,000

District: UK

Application closes: Grants will be given out regularly

Who is the funding for: Grass roots and community sports clubs in the UK (beneficiaries must be aged 18 and over)

Link:Proud To Pitch In | ActionFunde


Proud To Pitch In is an initiative from Greene King IPA, paying cash grants to grassroots and community sports clubs across the United Kingdom. Every pint they sell, will add 10p to fund supporting local clubs from the ground up, providing them with the tools clubs need to continue to play the sport they love. From football, rugby and cricket to roller hockey or netball, we want to support as many local teams across the UK as we can with donations which can go a long way to keeping everyone in action

Objectives of Fund

The aim of this fund is to support sports focussed projects that positively impact their club and/or the local community, and would tangibly benefit from funding. The fund is particularly focussed on sports projects that have a long term impact.

The fund is open to applications all year and grants will be distributed regularly.

Who Can apply

If you are involved in running a grassroots sports club you can apply .


Healthier Future Fund Survey – Did you apply or think of applying and didn’t?

Earlier this year, NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough introduced the Healthier Future Fund. This initiative enables groups to seek funding ranging from £50,000 to £100,000 annually (or £100,000 to £300,000 over three years) to bolster initiatives aimed at enhancing the health and wellbeing of the community.

Under the Healthier Futures fund, NHS Cambridgeshire & Peterborough has allocated £2 million for Voluntary, Community, and Social Enterprise (VCSE) partners throughout the region. This funding aims to facilitate health and well-being enhancements for residents and communities.

The ICS would like to learn from the experiences VCSE groups had in applying for the Healthier Futures Fund – if you applied or started but decided not to apply, please take this short survey.


Fill in the survey here

The link to the survey is here:

VCSE Energy Efficiency Scheme: The first round of applications are open NOW!

The VCSE Energy Efficiency Scheme offers independent energy assessments to help identify energy-saving opportunities in your building. From January, the scheme will offer capital grants to implement measures recommended in your assessment.

Applicant organisations must be VCSE-based in England and deliver frontline services. They must be able to demonstrate that they are financially sustainable, require support around energy and are not suitable for blended finance or loan support through other schemes.

The scheme is funded as part of a package of over £100 million of support being delivered by the Government to help frontline delivery organisations with the increased cost of living.

The first step in the application process is for groups to use the online eligibility checker to see if they can apply for the cost and delivery of an Independent Energy Assessment (IEA).

Those who are successful will be matched up with an independent energy assessor who will assess the building and help identify energy-saving opportunities.

You can also join their webinar, 30 January 2024 to cover the following: 

  • Overview of the scheme, key dates and what is available
  • Eligibility
  • How to apply for the cost and delivery of an Independent Energy Assessment (IEA)
  • How to apply for the capital grant
  • Top tips for grant applications

These webinars will also provide information on how applications will be prioritised if the scheme is oversubscribed, plus space for your questions.

Click here to book their webinar

Unlocking Opportunities: Support Cambridgeshire’s Second Annual Countywide Funding Event

Support Cambridgeshire is leading in the second annual fundraising event, yet this time, rather than fitting it in one week, we have listened to feedback and spread it this year across four. Open to all Cambridgeshire organisations, regardless of your structure and where you sit within the county. All events are free to attend and were made possible through a collaborative effort with our valued partners: Community Matters Yorkshire, CVS Bedfordshire, Humber and Wold Rural Action, and W3RT.

Empowering the Local Voluntary and Community Sectors

Support Cambridgeshire stands firm in its commitment to supporting the local voluntary and community sectors. The cornerstone of this commitment is these annual events, designed to provide invaluable information and advice across various funding levels. This month-long agenda of events is fundamental to our overarching mission of aiding groups in identifying potential funders and elevating their success in securing vital funding.

Embark on the Funding Journey: A Workshop to Ignite Success

Launching this month-long celebration is an engaging workshop, ‘Tips for Making a Successful Grant Application,’ delivered by CCVS on 7th March from 12:00 to 13:30. Open and accessible to all groups within Cambridgeshire, this session serves as a key starting point for those attending funding webinars or contemplating funding applications. Spaces are limited, so grab the opportunity and secure your spot here.

Dive into a Wealth of Insights: Webinars Unveiling Funding Opportunities

Spanning four days throughout the month, our webinars welcome any organisation within Cambridgeshire to explore the rich tapestry of funding possibilities. Immerse yourself in discussions led by funders eager to share their opportunities and address your queries. The webinars feature a curated mix of local and national speakers, each contributing to different themed days organised by Support Cambridgeshire and its partners. Attendees have the flexibility to tailor their experience, seamlessly dipping in and out of speakers as they navigate this insightful journey.

To explore the comprehensive agenda and reserve your spot for this transformative event, visit the website.

Once upon a time, a group never asked for volunteers 

Kathryn Shepherdson header

When you are looking to buy a new home device or try out a new sport, what is the one thing most people will do, apart from google it? Ask a friend.  

It is common knowledge that word of mouth is the most effective way to market. We are much more likely to buy something that someone who we identify with has had a positive experience with than we will read something. This is why marketing through social media and influencers has had such a significant impact in the past few years.  

So why not utilise this within your not-for-profit group around volunteer recruitment and use those volunteers you already have to get you more volunteers? 

Story time.  

I once knew a group that never advertised for volunteers by promoting that they wanted volunteers. Yet they would attract around 70 volunteers every few months just through one easy method. They would tell a story on Facebook of one of their volunteers and the impact they made on their community and the impact this had on the volunteer themself. They used a stock image linked as closely to the story and then shared it across the local Facebook groups, asking, ‘Would you like to be part of this?’, the replies would always amaze the volunteer manager, who then quickly contacted those who showed interest and had them going through the induction process a week after that initial post was put out! It was a recipe for success.  

How can Volunteer Cambs boost our recruitment? 

Volunteer Cambs want to give you that opportunity to do the same. When you go on our website you see on the front page our stories blogs. These are the stories of those wonderful volunteers within our communities talking about what they do, how they make an impact, and what they get out of it. We want to get as many groups as possible from across Cambridgeshire on there.  

How do we make the most of this story? 

At Volunteer Cambs, we can then link your stories with your current volunteer roles. This means once someone has been motivated to volunteer for a group like yours, they are taken directly through how they can get involved.  

This isn’t the only way to squeeze the most out of this blog. You can also then link this story in your social media, and share it across Facebook groups and other platforms, making sure to get your volunteer to share it too, because word of mouth is the most effective marketing method.  

How do I get our stories on Volunteer Cambs? 

So, find your most inspirational volunteer and get in contact, the story can take many forms, an interview with us, a story, or explaining the volunteer roles you have but make sure you have amazing quotes throughout. Check out what we have already put on the website and email  

Support Cambridgeshire expands its reach with the launch of LinkedIn Page! 

We are delighted to announce the official launch of Support Cambridgeshire’s LinkedIn page! As a dedicated organisation committed to encouraging connections and support within the community, we are thrilled to extend our presence to this dynamic professional platform.

Our LinkedIn page will serve as an added hub for updates, news, and insights. Just like our Twitter/X profiles, we are committed to keeping our LinkedIn page regularly updated with the latest information about our activities, events, and initiatives.

Why Follow Support Cambridgeshire on LinkedIn?

  • Stay Informed: Be the first to know about our upcoming events, workshops, and community initiatives. Our LinkedIn page will be a central hub for all the latest information.
  • Networking Opportunities: Connect with like-minded individuals, organizations, and professionals who share a passion for supporting the community.
  • Engage with Us: We encourage our followers to engage with our content by liking, sharing, and commenting. Your feedback is valuable to us, and we look forward to building a vibrant and interactive community on LinkedIn.
  • Join the Conversation: Share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences with our community. LinkedIn is a space for meaningful discussions, and we invite you to be an active participant in shaping the conversation.

Thank you for your continued support. We look forward to connecting with you on LinkedIn!

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Safeguarding Partnership Board: Adult Safeguarding Professionals Survey

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Safeguarding Adult Partnership Board would like to hear from practitioners and managers, working across the region, about your work to safeguard adults. The link to the survey is featured below and please distribute the link to as many staff members within your organisations as possible.

This is a completely anonymous survey that should only take 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Safeguarding Adult’s Partnership Board would like to allow you to share your thoughts and experiences surrounding your work in the field of adult safeguarding.  From the information that you give them, by answering this short survey, they hope to find out; not only ‘what adult safeguarding means’ to you as a professional, but also what your experiences are of working with adults at risk and their families/carers.

As mentioned above the completion of the survey is completely anonymous and the findings will only be used, by the Adult Safeguarding Partnership Board, to look at identifying; any gaps in understanding, training needs, where to aim future resources for safeguarding awareness events and to help to further inform the self-assessment tool (currently being completed by safeguarding leads within each agency to highlight areas of strength and areas of development for adult safeguarding duties and responsibilities).

Once all the data has been analysed there will be briefings for professionals on what we have found and discussions held within the Adult Safeguarding Partnership Board Groups as to how to take any recommendations forward.

The survey link can be found below, and the survey will be open until Friday 1 March 2024.

Link to survey: Adult Safeguarding Professionals Survey 2023- 2024 (


Staff Support Hub – January Newsletter 2024

The latest newsletter from ICS Staff Support is here! Please click on this link to read about their announced closure this March, and the latest updates.

To learn more about the Staff Support Hub, check out our page:

Staff Support Hub announces closure: Reflecting on Three Years Work

Kathryn Shepherdson header

On the 3rd of January 2024, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Staff Support Hub announced that they would be closing from the 31st of March 2024.

Through the past 3 years, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Staff Support Hub have offered free and confidential well-being support to all healthcare staff and volunteers, regardless of their role or organisation. It has served as a space that prioritises mental and emotional well-being, ensuring those offering care and health services receive the care they deserve for a healthier healthcare community. Arising from the pandemic, the central NHS could see the mental and physical impact COVID was having on the staff and other frontline services such as the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS). Each Integrated Care System received funding to set up a Staff Support Hub within their area.

What does this mean for the voluntary and community sector (VCS)?

As a member of the Integrated Care System (ICS) and a valued partner, those groups and organisations offering health and well-being services had access to a wide range of support through the hub. Many in VCS have accessed a number of the services, which has, in turn, given many groups that added value, offering an extended healthcare offer to their staff and volunteers. I attended webinars, courses, and sessions around different health and well-being development elements. When I had a loss in the family, the hub was able to offer support. I am personally grateful for this service.

However, many in the VCS would not have access to this service. For some, it would have been an unawareness that this support existed. Perhaps a learning point from the past few years stems from how services like this are communicated with the VCS sector. Was it that the language was too NHS-focused, that we didn’t promote it widely enough, or that the messages were unclear to spell out who could access such support? This could be the first time you read about it and didn’t even know there was a dedicated page on our website. Either way, I would be interested in knowing more about what learning we can take from this project and getting it out to those groups.

Sadly, others wouldn’t have access due to eligibility, as this service was only for those working or volunteering in the frontline within the health or care system. That is understandable, as this service was built for those dealing with the communities during and after COVID-19. But that doesn’t take away the need for frontline staff who have seen how the pandemic has impacted communities in other ways and how this has recently become a cost-of-living crisis. What for those groups? Is there a conversation around a need for broader support for these groups? If you’re reading this and saying yes, there is a need, then please let me know. Support Cambridgeshire cannot advocate on your behalf without the stories and evidence behind us.

In COVID-19, the VCS struggled in frontline roles, as many volunteers and staff worked extra hours and took on more than they ever expected. However, the more significant challenge for the sector is the cost-of-living crisis. Here, we are seeing an increase in need, a broader spectrum of the types of needs being displayed and an increase in feelings of hopelessness, which can and has led to an increase in antisocial behaviour. On top of that, our sector nationally is seeing a decrease in certain types of funding along with a change in volunteering style, leaving groups unable to offer the same level of services that those engaging with them need. This is having a more significant impact on our sector than the pandemic ever did. While I acknowledge what we see in VCS in those health and care settings, we can sometimes be forgotten and possibly not seen. This has meant that the mental and physical health of frontline staff and volunteers for the VCS is even more critical than ever, as these services are needed to keep groups and organisations running.

If the hub is being used, then why is it being closed when it is needed even more than before?

The funding from the central government was only for two years, but the impact was seen, and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Integrated Care Board was able to move resources around to fund it for a further year. This was highlighted in the statement put out;

‘With the support of our ICB, we have managed to keep the Hub going for a year longer than most Hubs in England.’

However, there has been a decision that the service can no longer be funded. Saying that I find it hard to believe that with the impact it has had in the broader health and care communities and the current state of the NHS, with the need to keep people in jobs, it would not be replaced by something. Whatever the ICB comes back with, that support should be open to aspects of the VCS. Perhaps we can learn from those communication challenges this time and make sure that all who can access do so.

Why is this so important?

For many voluntary and community groups and charities, the trustees would love to offer their staff and volunteers counselling, well-being workshops, or even lunchtime Pilates sessions. To recognise those individuals’ importance and help them continue offering fantastic support to their communities. Sadly, many funders hardly allow core funding to keep the heating going, let alone a cost of well-being on those staff and volunteers. So, the Staff Support Hub has supplemented and supported aspects of the VCS that would never have received that support free of charge otherwise, increasing staff retention, giving organisations another ‘perk’ of working for them and essentially keeping them open.

This impacts health services, as more social prescribers point individuals towards the VCS services. As one health professional once said, “What is the point of all these travel agents if there are no holidays to sell?” This means we need to keep services open; therefore, the health and well-being of staff and volunteers are vital. The health of our communities is everyone’s concern, including the VCS. Without the VCS, more individuals would be accessing frontline care, such as GPs and AnE, the general health of our communities would decrease and this whole idea of ‘waiting well’, which many in health talk about as a way of dealing with the crisis around waiting list would not be possible.

What next for the Staff Support Hub?

During the next three months, they have put in place a closing plan, which can be seen in their January newsletter; however, they have highlighted the following changes before closing:

  • From the beginning of January, they will not be making any more referrals for counselling.
  • From the end of January, they will not be able to accept any new referrals for their Working Well Pathway.
  • From the end of February, their peer support pathway will stop accepting referrals.

What comes next has not yet been announced, but as soon as Support Cambridgeshire are made aware, we will ensure it is communicated through our challenges, so make sure if you are not already linked to us through Twitter/X or received our updates, you subscribe today.


About the Author:  Kathryn Shepherdson, Deputy CEO at Hunts Forum. Email:

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