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You mean they’re professionals?

An Expo 2017 Steering Group member discusses the importance and impact of the voluntary sector on health and care innovation ahead of this year’s event:

Expo provides a great opportunity for people to meet, hear and learn about innovations taking place across the country in Health and Social Care.

One area that people seem confused about is the role the Voluntary Sector has in Health and Social Care. But Expo gives you a great opportunity to learn about us, what we do, and how we can help you.

The voluntary sector can be seen as something quite complex:  there are a lot of charities, which differ in size, constitution and aim. However, a quarter of all voluntary sector organisations are involved in the provision of health and social care services.

Some are doing small local projects, that don’t get funding or recognition, and then of course there are the larger providers that cover large areas of work across the whole country.  So how do you navigate what’s available?

This year, the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Health and Wellbeing Alliance – or HW Alliance for short – was launched, funded by the Department of Health, NHS England and Public Health England.  It comprises of 21 national organisations that reach a wide range of communities facing significant health inequalities, and are able to represent the collective views of the VCSE sector.

The HW Alliance aims to amplify the voice of the sector and people with lived experience to inform national policy, facilitate integrated working between the voluntary and statutory sectors, and co-produce solutions to promote equality and reduce health inequalities.

So why should you engage with the voluntary sector?

The sector has great expertise in a lot of areas and often is able to respond quicker than statutory sectors, coming up with new and innovative ideas to help provide solutions to local and national problems.

The NHS England Five Year Forward View lays out the need for “stronger partnerships with charitable and voluntary sector organisations”.

It goes on to say: When funding is tight, NHS, local authority and central government support for charities and voluntary organisations is put under pressure.  However, these voluntary organisations often have an impact well beyond what statutory services along can achieve.  Too often the NHS conflates the voluntary sector with the idea of volunteering, whereas these organisations provide a rich range of activities, including information, advice, advocacy and they deliver vital services with paid expert staff.  Often they are better able to reach underserved groups, and are a source of advice for commissioners on particular needs.”

So come and find out more about how the Health and Wellbeing Alliance and the wider voluntary sector can help you.

Visit our stand at Expo 2017 (stand 243) and we would love to help you, challenge your views on the sector or salute your commitment to engaging with the voluntary sector where you’re based.


Felicity Smith is the National Co-ordinator for FaithAction – a national network of faith-based and community organisations.

She has a strong input into strategic development and oversees programmes and contracts delivered by the FaithAction network.

Felicity has worked on FaithAction’s Health and Social Care work since 2009, and as representative for the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance.

She has been a member of the Steering Group for Health and Care Innovation Expo for the last two years, ensuring the voluntary sector has representation across all the different elements of the event.