Challenge, innovation, friendship: Exploring health and VCFSE partnerships between 2020-2022

This research explores the growth of partnership work between health and care systems and Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise (VCFSE) organisations between 2020 and 2022.

Through carrying out interviews with faith and community sector representatives, as well as health and wider public sector representatives, the report examines:

  • How this partnership work came about
  • What both sectors did as part of this work
  • What they learnt during the process
  • How this has shaped their approaches to future partnership work

The report draws attention to how existing partnerships between these sectors were strengthened during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the contribution of faith and community groups to health and care became increasingly prevalent through their frontline responses in areas ranging from the delivery of food parcels, to encouraging people to receive their vaccinations.

One Director of Public Health who was interviewed for the research said:

“Generally speaking, the role of the faith sector in improving health and wellbeing has often been overlooked  … But the role of the faith sector in health and wellbeing … the awareness of that has really improved during the pandemic…”.

The report shows what partners learnt during this process, and how this has shaped approaches to health and VCFSE partnership working beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, such as during the cost of living crisis. It also explores the challenges partnerships faced, before giving recommendations for both health system partners and grassroots VCFSE organisations to promote better partnership working in the future. Some of these recommendations include calling for greater public recognition and involvement of faith and community groups in local strategic planning, and encouraging greater collaboration between VCFSE organisations themselves in order to understand local needs and streamline resources.

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