NHS England provided a grant of £99,000 to the south west London collaborative commissioning in March 2016, to run a programme of engagement, extending reach into seldom heard communities. The project was funded in response to a report from the London Health Commission which identified a number of challenges for the NHS engaging the public on service change – notably around people feeling distant from services and not having opportunities to influence local change.
To address these challenges, we developed a project that would enable us to have meaningful and sustainable conversations with local communities. By working with Healthwatch organisations, we provided small grants to local grassroots groups to run events/activities enjoyable to their population. We attended these sessions to speak to people about their experiences of local services.
Between April 2016 and March 2017 we ran 88 sessions, reaching over 5000 people and having in-depth conversations with over 1600 individuals.
By providing a pot of money to local Healthwatch organisations we were not only able to capitalise on the extensive community connections that they had developed with local grassroots organisations, but we were also able to strengthen our own relationship with them as key stakeholders in health and care.
Feedback from each session was captured and shared with the local commissioners and providers, the organisers of the events and with the relevant Healthwatch organisation – to enable it to inform local developments. It was also logged centrally by our team and fed into each work stream through the assistant directors. This two pronged approach meant that the
feedback was able to enhance local intelligence as well as informing and shaping plans on a pan south west London and Surrey Downs basis. A ‘You Said, We Did’ report is currently
being drafted to demonstrate what has been done as a result of the feedback.
With the success of the 2016/17 project, the grassroots funding has been agreed for 2017/18. So far, the team have attended 27 events across south west London. You can read more about the funding and how it has helped local communities to share their views with the NHS here.
You can read more the 2016/17 grassroots evaluation here.