We will not achieve our ambitions without the involvement of voluntary community organisations and local communities in the development and design of our work.

Working alongside our communities is an important part of our partnership and we see the people we serve as assets. Working alongside local communities, ward councillors, council colleagues, voluntary community organisations and many others is essential if we are to fully understand the real value of early help and self-care.

A big part of this is not presuming we know what people think, but asking and listening instead. There is a wealth of expertise across West Yorkshire and Harrogate and people in communities are better placed than us to know what they need and to make positive change happen.

We have good leadership in the voluntary sector, and we are attracting support from Healthwatch, NHS England, Nurture Development and National Voices to help us to think about our next steps.

Our focus on ‘person-led’ approaches in our West Yorkshire and Harrogate priorities, such as stroke, cancer, maternity services and mental health, is critical and we are developing ways to make sure this happens. One example of this is having patient and public involvement on programme boards.

To make sure our work adds the greatest value possible and supports existing projects and groups across the area, we started with a number of design workshops in the summer. The aim of these were to agree a shared set of principles and a common understanding of what we mean by ‘communities doing more for themselves’, ‘co-production’, ‘asset based community development’ and ‘co-design’, and what the shared ambition for working with communities should be.

This includes:

  • Co-produce and co-design an approach with people and communities
  • Work with programmes to ensure good voluntary and community sector representation in all of our work streams
  • Inspire NHS senior leadership to be ambassadors for the work
  • Consider how the services we commission (or buy) might improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of the area
  • Raise the profile of and share the excellent work taking place across the area, and celebrate the difference this is making in our communities on a regional and national level.

It’s important to note that we are the beginning of this work and we are building on the good work we have achieved so far. Further sessions will take place over the coming months with communities.