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Increasing voluntary sector involvement in health transformation

This project, funded by the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance, and delivered in partnership with The King’s Fund, aims to increase voluntary sector involvement in sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) and/or accountable care systems (ACSs), by providing knowledge development and peer support to eight cross-sector teams.


NCVO is keen to support voluntary organisations around England to have a greater role in delivering the transformations that are envisaged through STPs and accountable care systems. This will require:

  • public sector bodies to understand and be able to engage with the full range of ways that the voluntary sector can contribute strategically to health and wellbeing transformation – not least in terms of prevention, community involvement and equalities agendas
  • voluntary organisations to be well organised at STP geographical footprint level and have the necessary relationships to engage in this way.

Our sense of the picture around the country is that some STPs have gone further towards this than others. This can be because of cultural and structural biases within the NHS, compounded by financial and capacity challenges, and some of it could be the result of a diverse and poorly coordinated voluntary sector, particularly at the geographical areas covered by STPs.

The project aims to understand and overcome these, and other challenges, by facilitating better collaborative and governance approaches within the STP that include the voluntary sector.

The project will deliver:

  • mutual understanding of the roles of commissioners, public sector providers and voluntary organisations as actors in delivery of health and wellbeing services.
  • sustained behaviour change to develop enduring cross-sector networks and governance arrangements.

Project structure and dates

We plan to run two parallel cohorts, one in the north of England and one in London. Each cohort will bring together four STPs or ACSs, with 10 representatives from each delegation. Each cohort will join three development days over a four-month period from November 2017 to March 2018.

Delegations will include a mix of statutory and voluntary sector. Voluntary sector will include infrastructure bodies and frontline organisations, including residents and community members.

YELLOW COHORT (north of England)BLUE COHORT (London)
  • Monday 20 November 2017
  • Friday 19 January 2018
  • Monday 12 March 2018
  • Friday 1 December 2017
  • Tuesday 13 February 2018
  • Tuesday 20 March 2018


Change will be brought about by a mix of:

  1. input of practical tools and insight through invited expert speakers (including ‘experts by experience’) and STP exemplars (mornings)
  2. action learning (afternoons). Each delegation will work independently to understand their individual challenges and develop responses, with a focus on systemic change
  3. peer learning and cross-fertilisation through networking with other STP areas.

Project outcomes

We will be asking each delegation to come up with its own outcomes, which will allow us to tailor the workshops to the needs of the delegates.

Here are draft outcomes for the project overall:

  1. Greater understanding of the challenges facing STP level health economies for which better engagement of the voluntary sector might offer solutions
  2. Greater readiness of STPs to work in substantive partnership with their local voluntary sector
  3. Better coordination of the voluntary sector at STP level
  4. Better understanding of a governance model that can support a shared vision and deliver change across all stages of the commissioning cycle

Project ‘gives’ and ‘gets’

What we ask for from the delegations

  • You nominate 10 local representatives – a mix of statutory sector STP leads, and voluntary sector and community representatives.
  • You commit to your delegation to attending all three days and investing time between workshop days.
  • You are ambitious about wanting to build cross-sector relationships and equitable partnerships that fully include the voluntary sector as a delivery partner.
  • You are open to working with other STPs and sharing your learning within a safe, contained environment.
  • You will participate in the evaluation of the project, as this will inform a proposed future evolution of the work. Evaluation will be carried out prior to the workshops starting, briefly after each workshop, and six months after project end.

Our commitment to you

  • We will provide high quality learning input with the best STP exemplars and contributors who bring insight into the role of the VCS in relation to health and wellbeing.
  • We will bring tested methodologies to support your development of partnership working and leadership, in partnership with The King’s Fund.
  • We will support you to translate your learning into local solutions that work for your STP or ACS.
  • We will bring you together with colleagues from other STPs and endeavour to create a rich and stimulating learning environment that builds on diverse contribution.


Participation in the project is free, as the project is funded by the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance .

Delegations are required to meet the cost of travel to the workshop days.

A small amount of funding has been set aside to support voluntary organisations to undertake partnership development during the project lifetime.

Project teams

Eight teams from the following STP areas have been selected to take part in the project:

  • Buckinghamshire Accountable Care System
  • Cornwall and Isles of Scilly STP
  • Coventry and Warwickshire STP
  • Lancashire and South Cumbria STP
  • Lincolnshire STP
  • Northamptonshire STP
  • Suffolk and North East Essex STP
  • West Yorkshire and Harrogate STP

Future work

NCVO hopes to be able to use the learning from this project to develop an offer to support voluntary sector involvement in health transformation more widely from 2018.

Key dates

Friday 1 September 2017 Deadline to express interest to NCVO
Monday 4 September Full application process designed and sent to interested delegations
Friday 6 October Deadline for application
Monday 20 November Yellow cohort begins (north)
Friday 1 December Blue cohort begins (London)

More information

For more information about this project, please contact Lev Pedro, public services senior officer, NCVO on 020 7520 2411 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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