Building community connections in North Warwickshire

30th June 2022

George Eliot Hospital Joe Giddens PA Archive

The partnership between Helpforce and George Eliot Hospital has led to a significant milestone in the development of the Back to Health Framework. Becky Millward, Patient Experience Manager at George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust discusses how the hospital trust and community organisations are working together to improve wellbeing and reduce pressure on services.

A critical aspect of the Back to Health Framework (BTHF) is how volunteers and volunteering can be a catalyst for generating greater collaboration at a community level. George Eliot Hospital (GEH) is part of the Coventry and Warwickshire Integrated Care System (ICS). Warwickshire North has a population of around 200,000, including urban areas such as Nuneaton and Bedworth and rural communities. As well as GEH there are many organisations that support the wellbeing of local people including: Warwickshire County Council, two District Councils, five Primary Care Networks (PCNs), covering 20+ GP practices, two Community Trusts and a rich diversity of voluntary and community organisations. The BTHF believes that if we can build better collaboration between local partners we will find opportunities for us to work together to improve health and wellbeing by encouraging more volunteering. Specifically, we will address health inequalities and more effectively reach marginalised communities. To achieve this, we needed to firstly agree where we should start the work and secondly bring local stakeholders together to explore the potential for doing things differently.

We analysed the demands that the different PCNs placed on GEH, looking at who was on the waiting list, who was being readmitted within 30 days and who did not attend appointments. This data, combined with data from partners, indicated the two PCN areas placing the most demand on GEH.

Ultimately the BTHF will be used across all communities in Warwickshire North, but we needed to agree where to start the work. We recently held the first community meeting in North Arden. This PCN area covers a rural area in North Warwickshire dispersed around a few market towns. The aim of the meeting was very simple - to bring together different stakeholders and local people and share with them the demands that the community places on George Eliot and other health and care providers. This will enable us to identify ways that the community and community organisations, if given support, can help us address those challenges.

The meeting was a great success. Almost 40 people attended, covering a wide variety of organisations. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. One person described it as “one of the best meetings I’ve ever attended!” It was clear from the feedback that this kind of collaboration doesn’t usually happen at a community level.The key local organisations, ones that make a difference to building stronger more resilient communities with a thriving volunteering culture, are not usually engaged in these kinds of discussions. Being transparent and sharing the pressures that the system is under is something that is very rarely done with community groups. And because community organisations are connected to the community they can identify ways that volunteers and the voluntary sector can support the health of local people and reduce demands on services.

This is the start of GEH working more effectively with different local communities. The initial signs could not be more positive. We have emerged with a set of achievable ideas for local volunteering and a group of people committed to seeing these come to fruition. A summary of the feedback from attendees to the meeting can be found here

To find out more about how Helpforce can help your Trust of community organisation benefit from developing a volunteer service speak to us at