Better Together VCS Forum

The Better Together VCS (Voluntary and Community Sector) Forum brings together senior representatives of larger or specialist VCS organisations with a countywide remit to share best practice and look for new opportunities to collaborate. 

 The forum meets bi-monthly and is chaired by the VCS representative on the County Durham Partnership Board, Jo Laverick, Executive Director of Durham Community Action. 

Support for the forum is provided by Ian Hunter Smart in the County Durham Partnership Team - telephone 03000 263595 or email

Working Together in County Durham VCS Survey **New**

Do you refer people to other organisations for specialist help, and do you take referrals from other VCS providers, or from professionals in the public sector?
We have some great networking in the County, but how do we see the future for it, and what aspects of collaboration do we need to develop more?
What tools do we need to help us as we work more closely together, so that all our clients get the best service we can offer? 
And how can our colleagues in the County Council, the NHS and the PCC work alongside us to shape services in the community?

We’d love to hear your views about how you use the communication channels which are currently available and how you see your own community support offers developing over the next couple of years. Please take the time to complete the survey and let us know. If you know of any other organisations and groups in your area which also have an interest in supporting local services, please do share the link with them too. 

We know how precious and stretched your time is, which is all the more reason to hear your views and help to shape the future.

Mental Health - Better Together VCS Policy Forum Report **New**

You may have participated in, or been aware of the Policy Forum about Mental Health, which was convened on Friday 6th July. This was the first in series of Policy Forums which are being coordinated via the Better Together Forum. Better Together is an informal network of county wide and specialist VCS organisations which provide services for communities across County Durham. 

The Forum attracted a broad cross section of stakeholders with an interest and in-depth understanding about how mental health support is being provided in the County. Delegates included elected members, VCS service providers, commissioners, NHS Foundation Trust managers and CCG representatives. The content provided an overview about how governance and commissioning is emerging and developing across both health and social care sectors, how services are provided via TEWV, and the challenges and opportunities which VCS providers of mental health support services are working with. The underlying theme was one of cross sector partnership working, which is why we are keen to share messages from the delegates who took part.

We’re pleased to be able to circulate the attached report, which summarises the presentations from the morning and the ensuing discussions. I’d like to draw your attention to the next steps we agreed as a result, and which are detailed at the end of the four page report. 

If you have any queries or would like any additional information, please do contact me , or Ian Hunter Smart , who is supporting the Better Together Network.

Better Together Policy Forum: Friday 6th July 2018, Durham Town Hall **New**

As discussed at the last Better Together Forum meeting we held the first in a series of six-monthly VCS led forums, which are themed on specific policy areas which affect our communities. According to the theme, relevant public sector partners and commissioners will be invited to participate with colleagues from the VCS. The theme of Mental Health was chosen for the first Policy Forum by those present at the last Better Together network meeting on 24th April. 

The Forum took place on Friday 6th July at The Lantern Room, Durham Town Hall, between 9.30am and 12.30pm. It was structured to provide insight from key speakers who can offer insight from Partnership (Mental Health Partnership Board), Operational (TEWV) and VCS (providers) perspectives. It also provided the opportunity for discussion between a range of providers from across both public and voluntary sectors. As the venue is relatively small, with maximum capacity of 40, invitations will be prioritised via the Better Together Forum membership, plus key public sector representatives e.g. Cabinet Portfolio Holder/s, relevant Heads of Service and Commissioners. 

NB As previously notified the Better Together meeting on 19th June has been cancelled.

Better Together Forum 24th April 2108 **New**

Please find attached the  notes from the Better Together Forum held on  24th April

Better Together Forum 20th February 2108 **New**

Please find attached the  notes from the Better Together Forum held on Tuesday 20th February.