VCSE Health Alliance – Update Bulletin – March 2024

March 2024

Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Voluntary Sector Network

(Formerly the VCSE Health Alliance)

February’s Voluntary Sector Network Meeting

We will have held our February meeting by the time you read this. The meeting will focus on partnerships and consortia and hear from our local organisations about the benefits and processes of collaboration. We are exploring different ways we can encourage joint working. If you have any ideas or questions on this please do let Sandie know. The notes from the meeting will be available on the webpage.

Voluntary sector showcase day

We have set up a day of online sessions for our members to showcase what they do. There are 11 sessions, each is about 30mins long. This has been amazingly popular so we will look at repeating it later in the year. If you want to learn more about the work of your colleagues, you can see the sessions on offer and book your space here:

Organisation Showcase-Thursday  March 14th – sessions through the day 9.30-3.45 (

Project proposals

Thank you to everyone who has sent us their project proposals. For newer members, this is to help us develop a library of proposals that we can use for those pots of money that come through at short notice. The layout of the questions on the form has been designed to encourage collaboration. We have decided to keep submissions open-ended, so please ask Debbie if you would like to receive the template.

Healthier Futures – feedback survey

ICB colleagues are keen to hear about your experience of applying to the Healthier Futures Fund. Please take a few minutes to complete this survey. Your feedback will be used to make the process better in future.

Healthier Future’s Fund experience survey (

Voluntary sector strategy

‘Working together for a better future’ is the Integrated Care System’s strategy for working with the voluntary and community sector [1]. The strategy, drafted with input from many members and with support from NAVCA, was published in 2022. NAVCA is now supporting us with a strategic review. This will bring together outputs from our branding engagement exercise and quality assessment, with the final revised strategy and supporting action plan expected this autumn.

Coming soon……

The Network Steering Group are working on final tweaks to our new brand and the community grant scheme is now progressing, after a short unavoidable delay. News on both will be released soon.

Voluntary Sector Network meetings

Here are the dates of our future meetings, please do put them in your diary.

  • 17th April 1-3pm  Peterborough
  • 22nd May 10am-12pm  – St Ives Corn Exchange
  • 26th June 1-3pm  –  Zoom
  • 24th July 1-3pm   –  In person venue TBC
  • 11th September 9.30-11.30am  – Zoom
  • 16th October 10am-12pm  –  In person venue TBC
  • 13th November 1-3pm   – Zoom
  • 11th December 9.30-11.30am   –  Zoom

See here for more information about the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Voluntary Sector Network. You can also find the notes from the February 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 Voluntary Sector Network members. Anyone wishing to join should email Debbie

[1] ICS-VCSE-strategy.pdf (

Community survey: Have your say on creating Healthy Places

Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council’s joint public health team is inviting residents to have their say on how new and existing communities can be healthy, supportive and inclusive.

Work is currently underway to develop the Healthy Places Joint Strategic Needs Assessment for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, a piece of work which will support the development of healthier, easy-to-access, and inclusive communities. To inform this, the team has launched a survey asking for views on access to healthcare services, inclusive and accessible green spaces, opportunities for active travel and healthy play and leisure, and the provision of affordable healthy food options.

The survey is open until Monday 15 April at 5 pm. It will take around 10-15 minutes to fill in and may be completed on behalf of yourself or someone you care for.

If you’d prefer to complete a paper copy of the survey, you can pick one up from your local library or New Shire Hall, Emery Crescent, Enterprise Campus, Alconbury Weald, Huntingdon PE28 4YE.

If you have any questions about the survey or the Healthy Places Joint Strategic Needs Assessment for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, please email

New Volunteer Cambs website calls on the local community to make their mark with volunteering

A new website has been launched by Support Cambridgeshire, promoting exciting opportunities for residents of Cambridgeshire to explore volunteering near them.

Whether you have 10 minutes to spare or 10 hours, in a few clicks, you can be matched with an organisation or group in the community which inspires you to make your mark, expand on the skills you already have, discover new ones, unlock your potential or create lasting friendships with like-minded people.

All you need to do is visit the Volunteer Cambs website at, create an account and hey presto! At the click of a button, you can find the ideal cause to support right on your doorstep.


“Volunteering is not just about helping others”, say the creators of the new volunteer matchmaking service – “it’s also about what they’ll get in return. This includes a sense of purpose, wonderful experiences, and a whole lot of thanks from the causes they are helping”


Volunteer Cambs works by asking organisations and groups to load up their opportunities and profiles directly so there’s always something new for a volunteer to look at every time they visit the site. And the good causes who are promoting their work benefit by having a continuous stream of potential volunteers.


Mayor Nik Johnston on volunteer Cambs website

Dr. Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough

The website has also had backing from the Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough. Speaking about the launch of Volunteer Cambs, Dr, Nik Johnson said: “The role of volunteers in supporting our local communities is crucial, and it’s always humbling to see the efforts of our residents who give up their time and skills to support the causes that are important to them. I’m hugely excited about the impact the Volunteer Cambs portal is set to make in matching volunteers with the organisations that need them – and am proud to see our region leading the charge and shining an even brighter light on the importance of volunteering and making connections like never before.”



An enquiry form featured on the website will help groups and volunteers match up, contact each other, and there is even a chat function for those who want to dip their toe in first. Would be volunteers can search for opportunities by location if transport is an issue, for instance, or by topics that match their skill set and interests.


Mark Freeman, CEO at Cambridge Council for Voluntary Service, Volunteer Cambs lead partner, continued: “Volunteers benefit from knowing they can make a real positive difference and have a strong impact on their local area. And anyone can volunteer, you could be retired, a skilled professional, a student, a family who want to volunteer together, or even a corporate team. Sharing talents with others connects all of us in a really special way and can boost our mental health and well-being too by helping us to feel valued, knowing that what we do as volunteers is appreciated and respected.”


The Volunteer Cambs team will be out and about across in Cambridgeshire over the coming year. You can also keep an eye on the site for more information and inspiring stories and photographs of great volunteer/group matches transforming lives and raising awareness of the value, impact and importance they’re having in their local area.


To find out how you can match your precious time to local good causes, visit It all starts with one act of kindness.

How to nominate a voluntary champion for an honour or award

Karen Cann blog header

The UK honours system recognises people in the voluntary sector who have gone above and beyond to shape and improve their communities, and who have made a significant impact, making life better for others.

For those actively involved in charity or community work, the most relevant honours include the Order of the British Empire (OBE), the Member of the British Empire (MBE), and the British Empire Medal (BEM).

Do you know someone who has been exceptional and made a positive impact in the charity or community sector? Perhaps a community leader, volunteer or philanthropist who has made a real difference?

The great news is, to nominate – it’s easier than you think!

Anyone can be nominated – it isn’t to do with age, class or how long they have been working or volunteering.

When nominating, you don’t specify what honour you would like your nominee to receive – that will be decided by the honours committee.

How do I nominate someone?

You could start today! There isn’t a specific deadline: you can submit your nomination at any time of the year and the process takes one to two years to verify. Try to nominate when your individual is still active.

Nomination forms are available online, and require detailed information about the individual’s accomplishments.

You’ll need to begin with why you are nominating your person, and this will include their:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Contact details
  • Relevant work or volunteering
  • Recognition they have received, such as awards
  • Two supporting letters

Please use descriptive sentences to describe the transformative nature of their efforts. Highlight specific projects, initiatives, or programmes they have contributed to, along with details of the benefits to the community and the lives they’ve touched.

In simple terms: why is their work important?

A few tips!

  • Please use all the characters you are given and try not to leave any part of the form blank.
  • Provide some background to the organisation they are working or volunteering for.
  • Link facts, such as roles, dates, and actions, to the impact your nominee has made.
  • Provide evidence to back everything up.

Please do not list all their work roles, qualifications, and achievements in a ‘CV’ style.

The focus should be on their IMPACT and the selfless way they have provided service and changed lives for the better. Tell their story!

To do this, the committee recommend that you think about:

  • What were things like before their efforts began?
  • How are things now?
  • What makes the nominee different from other people doing similar work?

You will need to gather and provide evidence for your individual’s achievements, such as news articles, weblinks, photos and other relevant files.

Supporting letters 

Anyone who has worked with or has experienced the work of the individual can write a letter of recommendation to be submitted along with the nomination. It should be from people who know the nominee, such as:

  • Someone from the nominee’s organisation or community.
  • A high-profile individual such as a local councillor or MP.
  • Someone who works alongside them.


Please keep everything confidential – it is very important that the individual doesn’t find out that they are being nominated, as they will feel disappointed if they don’t receive an award. Moreover, there will be personal data collected so be careful where this is stored.

Please don’t worry about nominating, the honours committee doesn’t expect the submission to be perfect or overly formal – so give it a go!

The Honours are announced at New Year and on the King’s birthday. You shouldn’t contact the committee about your nomination – if you are successful, the honour will be made public. If you haven’t heard after two years, then you may submit again.

The UK Honours system is a powerful way to celebrate and elevate those who make a significant difference in the charity and community sector. By nominating individuals for these awards, not only do we recognise their efforts, but it could also inspire others to contribute to the well-being of their communities and highlight some fantastic organisations along the way!


So, why not celebrate one of your staff or volunteers, an unsung hero who works hard to create positive change, they may really appreciate the award!


For more information please visit: Nominate someone for an honour or award: Overview – GOV.UK (


This nomination process is for individuals only, to nominate a voluntary group for The King’s Award for Voluntary Service: The King’s Award for Voluntary Service: Overview – GOV.UK (

Health Alliance -17th January March Library

Chaired By Sandie Smith 

Sandie welcomed everyone and introductions were done as there were a few new faces around the table. 

Action log. All completed items will be removed. 

Action 66. A template for sharing some good news stories for the ICS/ICB newsletter has been produced and will be shared post-meeting. Has a project you have been doing had an impact on the community? 

Andrea Grobois gave a presentation to the meeting explaining the Integrated Care Board (ICB), the Integrated Care System (ICS) and the Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) and the areas that are covered. 

We discussed how the voluntary sector fits with this and how we can increase our profile.  

Andrea mentioned the Joint Forward Plan Our Joint Forward Plan | CPICS Website and how it is worth looking at that when thinking about pieces of work organisations may want to get involved in. There is also an operational plan that looks at year-by-year proposed activities. The voluntary sector has a strategy for working with the ICS- “Working Together for a Better Future”. This can be found on the Health Alliance webpage: 

ICS-VCSE-strategy.pdf (  

It was suggested that maybe HA members who work in the same area, eg housing could come together to look at joint projects. 

It was asked if the voluntary sector should be setting the agenda – Andrea explained that she is working to ensure that the voluntary sector is considered in conversations. The key purpose of this Alliance is to influence the agenda and enable VCSE to be equal partners.  

An issue was raised when patients/ clients lived around county borders. As there are different approaches to health in different areas it is difficult to navigate- for example, hospital discharge from Queen Elizabeth Hospital for people living in Wisbech is different to those who are discharged from NWAFT. 

ACTION- for the issue of cross border policy to be raised with the Commissioning and Investment and Improvement and Reform Committee- Miriam Martin and Michael Firek attend. 

ACTION- Melanie and Keith to give examples where cross-border issues have affected care/ support. 

Sandie’s Update 

Safeguarding- the task and finish group have now finished this piece of work. A mission statement for organisations has been shared and organisations have been asked to sign up. (contact Debbie if you need this resending). Sandie has shared a list of training and for any more information about this, you should refer back to your CVS. 

  • Quality Development Tool Workshops – These will look at the maturity of the Health Alliance and outcomes will be used to plan for the future. The first session in Peterborough will cover 2 of the priorities (places are fully booked) the second session will look at the final 4 – this is on 15th February in Ely and there are still a couple of spaces available. Please get in touch. 
  • Branding and Name Update – There is a rescheduled (due to illness) meeting for the final piece of this work before the end of January. Look out for the new name; Voluntary Sector Network- Together for Healthier Communities. 
  • Community Grants – The £75,000 fund from Assura Investment Trust will be allocated to 10 grassroots community organisations to undertake work in a defined local area that addresses health inequalities. This will be administered by the Cheshire Community Foundation. More details on this will follow soon. 

Sandie met with the Reps and the Partnership Development group and it has been agreed these will join to produce a steering group for the Health Alliance – this gives good representation across the patch. 

Representatives feedback – The reps that attend the ICB committees gave a summary of their committees (shared in slide pack). Sandie confirmed who attended which committee. Keith is going to represent the Health Alliance on the North partnership but he has not received invites/ papers yet. Chris from PVCS said she would raise this. 

Data Project- Michael Mitchell 

The data project aims to facilitate better data sharing across the Health Alliance. Cambridge CAB is leading a project to create a data catalogue for all members to add their data headings and descriptions for the data they collect. This data catalogue will allow the Health Alliance and members to see who is collecting what data and request data from the organisation. The shared data will be anonymous or aggregated. Combining data from different organisations should help to enrich the unique insights of each member of the Health Alliance. 


  • The next Health and Wellbeing network meeting will be on 13th February and will look at digital access across the county: Will Plant (CCC Digital Strategy), Karen Igho (Healthwatch community researcher’s findings) and Rosie Veitch (library services) will discuss the current picture and the support/ options that are available. To book, click the link: 
  • Organisation Showcase event – This has been organised for 14th March. 11 organisations will showcase what they do and there will be opportunities for others to ask questions. The demand for this was extremely high and 8 organisations (that did not get a place) are interested in doing this if we put it on again. 

Each time slot is only half an hour so please see if you can sign up and see what fellow Alliance members have to offer. The event will be shared across the voluntary and statutory sectors.  

Organisations are Cambridge United Foundation, Caresco, Pinpoint, Richmond fellowship, Animals and People, Camcare, Care network, Lifecraft, ARHC, Bobby scheme and Magpass. Book your place, click the link: 

Next Meeting 

28th February on Zoom 9.30-11.30 am 

Discover our funding sources page for Cambridgeshire

Did you know that Support Cambridgeshire offers a comprehensive funding source page?

Explore our platform to discover a variety of charitable funders dedicated to supporting various causes across Cambridgeshire.

Latest Update:

• Children and Young People: These funders specialise in projects aimed at benefiting children and young individuals.

New funders:

and many more…

Access the latest updates here:

This page is updated annually. Did you spot an error? Please let us know.

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

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:

State of the Sector – Have your say!

Some may say the past twelve months, compared to others, has been a quiet year for our society, with no significant health crisis or political upheaval and that perhaps a glimpse of positivity can be seen for our communities with things calming down.

Last year, the State of the Sector report showed a decrease in volunteer numbers against an increase in those individuals that groups support having more complex needs and, therefore, longer waiting lists. The 2023 report and its findings have been essential in helping Support Cambridgeshire make a case for the crucial role of voluntary and community groups in our communities with tightening budgets and cuts to services.

It’s that time again when we ask for five minutes of your precious time to let us know how you’re coping in this environment. Are you still struggling to find volunteers? Has funding increased? Are you more optimistic today about the future of your group? We want to know!

We need as many individuals from charities, not-for-profit organisations, and community groups to complete the 2024 Survey of Cambridgeshire Community Groups and Charities. This way, we can see what is happening across the county and whether the challenges you are currently facing are the same as last year or if there is something we all need to be aware of coming down the road.

All organisations that fill out the survey will be entered into a prize draw for £100 for that organisation. The closing date for the survey is 4th March , and the prize draw will follow this.

Fill in the survey 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

Help us improve our website