June 2021 VCS Assembly on Emotional Wellbeing

First VCS Assembly Meeting - June 2021

An opportunity to get the community and the health system together

VCS Assembly – 1st Meeting on Emotional Wellbeing

The first VCS Assembly meeting took place on 15 June 2021. 150 people joined us online for our first Hackney and City VCS Assembly devoted to the issue of emotional wellbeing.

The event was the latest stage in our delivery of a ground-breaking “Enabler” approach which places the community and voluntary sector at the very heart of our health and care service design.

Our focus had been selected by our networks and leadership group as a priority area of concern; our assembly, the space where they could gather with our statutory partners – the council and NHS – to identify challenges and more importantly shape solutions.

It was great to see so many on Zoom, sharing your insights. Vanessa Morris, CEO of Mind in The City, Hackney and Waltham Forest shared chairing duties with Rosemary Jawara, Founder and Manager of Beersheba Living Well, introducing moving case histories of pandemic experiences ahead of breakouts to discuss the challenges facing our respective organisations and sectors.

More important, however, were our afternoon sessions, led by members of our leadership group where we considered how we, the voluntary sector, could create our own community-led solutions – whether working independently or in partnership either with other voluntary sector organisations or statutory partners such as the council and NHS.

If you weren’t able to join us, don’t worry, we are very much open for you to share any post-pandemic challenges you are seeing round our emotional wellbeing and, equally, any details of projects you are working on that are having an impact.

But for those who did attend, how was it for you? Were we asking the right questions? Were your voices accurately captured in our collaborative Jamboard sessions and headlines?

We really want each assembly to be a golden ticket event for our whole sector, so if we did anything wrong, please make sure you let us know (though praise is welcome too).

And what’s next? Hackney CVS has employed a consultant who will ensure your ideas form the foundations of a strong VCSE business case, starting the job of reshaping our service landscape, with our communities at its heart. Watch this space to see how you can be involved in our next steps.

And finally, keep your eyes peeled for the second virtual assembly with a provisional hold-the-date of 21 September 2021.

Susan Masters, Health and Social Care Policy Lead


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the VCS Assembly? Is it new? I have not heard of it…

The short answer: It’s a zoom call getting the community and the health system together to see what we can do that will make the biggest difference

More detail: The VCS Assembly is a new quarterly meeting which will bring all the Hackney & City voluntary and community organisations and networks together to discuss how we can address and find solutions to the most important issues we face. The plan is to discuss what we know and what people think will make a difference if we work together better and have the resources to act.

What’s its purpose?

The short answer: Bringing everyone together so that great ideas from the grassroots can get heard and acted on.

More detail: the quarterly Assembly meetings will have four key objectives:

  1. To bring together all voluntary and community organisations and networks to discuss the most important issues facing Hackney and the City.
  2. To provide a forum to develop solutions and build consensus on an agreed set of actions to deliver the solutions.
  3. Translating the solutions into business cases (as appropriate), to secure the support of the City & Hackney health and social care system.
  4. To explore further opportunities to strengthen and reinforce joint working with public sector colleagues.

How can it actually make a difference?

Short answer: by shifting power and funding to the frontline organisations – so communities are leading the solutions

More detail: Ideally the things we agree on, and the actions we identify, will form business cases so that we can secure the support of the health and care system – the NHS, Council and other key players.

Many of you will know that since lockdown we have secured over £1m in grant investment from the Council’s Public Health department and the Clinical Commissioning Group so that local VCS organisations can support the roll out of test and trace, have funding to support their activities and, more recently, help communities and residents get the right information to make informed choices about taking the vaccine. We want to build on this approach to host Assembly meetings that further explore the issues and to establish what we can do if we work together with our public sector colleagues.

Why should I get involved?

Short and long answer: we need you!  It’s not going to work without everyone giving this a go… we will be learning as we go to ensure the meetings are inclusive for everyone and get results. The assembly is for everyone – whether you are a small community group focussed on one community or a large charity serving a wide number of people. Everyone’s voice is important!

Be prepared!
The first meeting in June focused on ‘Emotional Wellbeing’ as it’s an issue that everyone has been impacted by in some way.  As background reading, we asked participants to review the VCS Recovery & Resilience Strategy, which many of you helped us to pull together by inputting to focus groups and online conversations that we held. This document helps to set the scene for our forthcoming Assembly meeting by identifying what you think is important and what we can do together.