Building a stronger partnership workshop

The Guernsey Community Foundation hosted a workshop at St Pierre Park on Tuesday, which looked at opportunities to benefit the community by building a stronger partnership between the voluntary sector and the Health and Social Services Department.

76 delegates attended the workshop, representing over 50 voluntary organisations as well as HSSD and other States Departments.

HSSD Chief Officer Carol Tozer opened the evening with a discussion of the challenges and opportunities faced by HSSD, speaking about the importance of the voluntary sector in helping to prevent ill-health, involving people in planning their own care, and developing more responsive services.

This was followed by an interactive session led by Ruby Parry, HSSD’s Director of Communities, where attendees were asked to talk about their reasons for becoming involved in the voluntary sector, and the values and principles that guided their work.

Participants’ replies centred around two common themes: meeting an unmet need, and making a difference in the community. Many said that they wanted to give something back, to support people, and to use their skills and experience. A lot of the responses were very positive, with participants talking about their passion for their work.

There was a lot of agreement on shared values, with participants giving a high priority to inclusion and equality. Participants were keen to ensure that services remain focused on the people they are serving. Many spoke about their commitment to improvement – finding opportunities to work better together with other charities as well as with the States.

Following the discussion, guest speakers from the voluntary sector took the stage, to talk about their experience of working in partnership with government. Tracey Rear of Drug Concern spoke about her long experience of working with the States; while Vanessa Spiller of St John Ambulance gave a perspective from her recent work in the UK. Philippa Stahelin spoke of Headway’s journey towards becoming part of the care pathway for people with brain injuries, and the importance of charities maintaining an independent identity.

The evening closed with a session led by Community Foundation Chair Wayne Bulpitt, where participants discussed the challenges and opportunities involved in a closer partnership with the States.

Participants spoke about the need to be treated as equal partners, and the importance of clear communication. For some, the speed of decision-making was a challenge, while others raised questions about governance and the measurement of outcomes. However, the opportunities were also clearly recognised, with participants speaking about sharing information and expertise, building mutual respect, and filling gaps in services.

In conclusion, participants agreed that a successful partnership would result in much better outcomes for the people of Guernsey, with people getting what they need, when they need it, and voluntary and statutory services being part of a single pathway of care for the people they serve.

Wayne Bulpitt, Chair of the Guernsey Community Foundation, said:

“We are thrilled that this workshop met with such a positive response from the States and from the voluntary sector. We are now collecting the feedback from the night, to share with all participants, as well as some who could unfortunately not attend; and we are reflecting on what was said. The workshop clearly identified some great opportunities for the States and the voluntary sector to work more closely together, to benefit Guernsey people; as well as some areas where we all need to learn and improve. We are looking forward to continuing to work with HSSD to build on our existing work, and to find new ways for the voluntary sector to have an impact in our community.”

Sign up for our newsletter