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Garry Jones's blog

Wed 16 Jan 2019

Happy 2019.

As we welcome in the new year, I am pleased to note two significant new strands of collaborative work, that we are heavily involved in. The first is the Transforming the Trent Valley Landscape project – a great new partnership project in the south-east of the county, working across a range of disciplines, from nature conservation, to physical and mental wellbeing and archaeology and culture! Led by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, this new programme builds upon a longstanding collaboration known as the Central Rivers Initiative and also works across sectors, involving the local public sector and private quarry operators, as well as a number of voluntary sector organisations – including ourselves. For the full details of the multimillion pound scheme take a look at the article below, and look out for the small grants programme that Support Staffordshire will be managing as part of the programme.

We have also been working closely with our neighbours in Stoke-on-Trent, as VAST and ourselves champion the potential role of the voluntary sector through the development of a social prescribing model for Stoke and Staffs. This week, we presented the case for improved attention to such an opportunity amongst health and care senior leaders as part of the Staffordshire & Stoke-on-Trent STP. Our presentation is based upon the work of a Social Prescribing Advisory group, again a cross sector approach with both the NHS and Public Health, alongside the VCSE sector. Together we have put forward a plan that describes what we are seeking to achieve, what the main component parts should be and that has begun to map out what is already happening. The next stage will be to look at the main gaps and work together on how we can fill them. For VCSE groups, the main forum for engaging in these matters is our countywide Health & Care forum – for details email Sandra.payne@supportstaffordshire.org.uk.

There are bound to be any number of challenges ahead in 2019, with or without the looming shadow of the B word. But collaboration is sure to be one of the best ways of riding out these challenges. It can be tempting to batten down the hatches and focus in on ourselves and our own organisations at such times, so I encourage all our members to look outward. As in the above examples, this way of thinking can pay dividends, eventually!