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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Better Together Forum meeting

We look forward to seeing you at the next Better Together VCS Forum to be held on Tuesday 4th December at 1.00pm at Humankind (formerly DISC) Sapphire House, IES Centre, Horndale Avenue,
Newton Aycliffe, DL5 6DS.

The agenda and notes from the last meeting (previously circulated), and meeting dates for 2019 are attached, together with a copy of the current VCS representatives on the AAPs for your information and as promised.

Please let us know whether or not you are able to attend or whether you will be sending a representative. Please reply to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Kind regards,

County Durham Partnership
Transformation and Partnerships
Durham County Council
Room 5-140/150
County Hall
03000 263593
E mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mental Health - Better Together VCS Policy Forum Report 

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or Ian Hunter Smart This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , who is supporting the Better Together Network.

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

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.

Better Together Forum 24th April 2108 

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

Maximising Funding Presentation

Social Isolation Fund presentation