Health Alliance Update – the VCSE Strategy goes LIVE

We are pleased to officially announce that the Integrated Care Board has now rubber-stamped the VCSE Strategy and Memorandum of Understanding.

During the September ICB board meeting, both the ‘VCSE Strategy’ and ‘Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) were approved, signalling the official partnership between Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Integrated Care System (CPICS) and the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector.

The Strategy was commissioned and funded by the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough ICS and is jointly owned by the Directorate of Strategy and Partnership and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough VCSE CEO Network.

A glossy version of the Strategy is in final proof and will be uploaded shortly in pdf format.

The VCSE vision

This strategy sets out our vision and ambitions for partnership working and how we’ll achieve our goal of embedding the VCSE sector fully within the ICS.

Working side by side, the CPICS and VCSE communities can share a culture that enables a rebalancing of power, changing how decisions are made in health and care.

We believe this partnership will encourage a collective understanding of good working practices and partnership conduct for all parties.

The signing off of the Strategy has ensured a ‘diverse’ voice is now at the table. We can turn our attention to how the VCSE and health sector can improve their communications and focus our efforts on continuing to build a robust, inclusive and empowering relationship.

However, this Strategy is not set in stone.  While it does cover the short, medium and long-term goals, it will be revisited after 12 months to reflect changes as the CPICS develops or if the need to do so arises.  All the agreed goals are interdependent and will require ongoing collaborative working.

What is coming next?

The VCSE Health Alliance work will continue forward and focus on other key topics that have been identified to help support a vibrant and thriving VCSE.  We will continue to work to drive change, create tangible impacts on people and communities, and tackle health inequalities.

Look out over the next coming weeks for other successful initiatives, including the Staff Support Hub  (workshops and webinars for struggling staff) and task groups to focus mainly on the three key areas below;

  • Partnership Development task group
  • Tackling Inequalities task group
  • Funding and External Investment task group

If you are interested in joining one of these task groups or attending any future VSE Health Alliance meetings, please contact


VCSE Health Alliance Group update – Sept 2022

The VCSE Health Alliance group met again on the 14th of September to update the members on the progress the ICS and VCSE have made over the past couple of months, and in particular, to agree on a plan to utilise funding received from the ICS covering some important issues within the voluntary sector;

  • Partnership Development 
  • Securing Funding and External Investment – 
  • Tackling Inequalities

The meeting was chaired by Julie Farrow, CEO of Hunts Forum and was held at The Commemoration Hall in Huntingdon.  We had good representation again from across the VCSE sector.

Julie opened the meeting by updating the group on the progress of the ICS VCSE Strategy.  The Strategy was completed by the deadline of 30th June and sent to ICB for approval.   Unfortunately, due to the number of papers at that board meeting, the Strategy was pushed back to the next board meeting.

Julie confirmed that the Strategy had been agreed upon in principle, and thus we are to continue and work from it.  NHS England has given it the green light and hopes it will be approved at the next ICB meeting soon.

Julie also updated the group following an expressed interest for volunteers representing the voluntary sector on identified boards and committees.  These were forwarded to the ICB Governance team and had only recently responded; thus, the VCSE sector hasn’t been represented at any of the boards that met in the last month or so.  This will hopefully be resolved moving forward.

So the positive news from the meeting surrounded the fact that Hunts Forum has received £200k funding from the ICS to help the VCSE sector focus on and develop the following key projects;

Partnership Development – System, Place and Neighbourhood

Julie explained an initial allocation of £100k (this can be amended and split differently between the other two projects) to look at how the voluntary sector continues to embed itself in the ‘system’; how the VCSE plan to work in place & finally, who within the VCSE is involved.  Julie proposed that we recruit somebody to write an update for the sector, i.e., who are the key partners, what makes up the finances, and which unfunded projects added value.  This was agreed in principle by those present.

Securing funding and external investment – how sustainable is the VCSE sector?

This project is all about identifying gaps and opportunities to tender for additional funding from external fundraisers.  £50k has so far been allocated for this project.  Julie confirmed that the project would be more focused on pulling together collectively as a sector and working collaboratively to see how we can lever in additional ‘resources’ to add ‘added value to the health system.  It was suggested that Julie invite Nicci Briggs, Chief Finance Officer at the CPICS, to understand the financial structure within the ICS to one of our future meetings.

Tackling equality – encouraging the broadest possible involvement

£50k has been allocated for this project.  This project looks at social capital, mobilising what is in place and tackling funding inequality.

NHS England additional funding

It was also highlighted that Julie had also secured an additional £10k funding for developing branding and communications for the Health Alliance group.  This money will also be used for internal communications and provide consistent access to information on who’s doing what in representing the VCSE on boards and committees and sharing feedback on key comments and actions arising from those meetings.

Actions points that rose from the meeting

  1.  Julie to organise an online session to address the concerns many members had experienced in the lack of voluntary sector participation at various ‘health’ meetings.  In particular, this session will address what value health meetings put on the voluntary section due to the fact that VCSE issues aren’t currently included on the meeting agendas.  If you are interested in attending, please email
  2. All members agreed to forward ‘content’ that can be uploaded and shared via a regular newsletter to all members detailing key activities, events, and feedback from attending the various health boards.
  3. A few members expressed concern over their commissioning contracts, particularly the delays in renewing their contracts with many charities forced to operate ‘as a going concern.  Julie offered to send a letter signed by CEOs expressing their collective concerns direct to the CPICS.

Any other business

It was suggested that future meetings alternate between face-to-face and virtual. Therefore the next meeting will be online.  Any requests for a change of location or area for face-to-face meetings should contact

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