What are the next steps?

A document called a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is the next vital step in writing an agreement between the ICS and the Statutory, Voluntary and Community sectors on how they plan to co-operate and facilitate the strategic aims of the ICS.

The MOU is a requirement from NHS England to recognise the VCSE in ICS. It will be co-produced with ICS and VCSE members to bring together their joint aims.  

The MoU will not be a stand-alone document; once it has been approved, it will sit alongside the VCSE Strategy, which outlines all our goals, ambitions, and indicators of success. 

What are the fundamental principles of the MoU? 

All members that sign up for the MoU will respect and recognise the independence and values of other members and will allow every partner the courtesy of being listened to and heard.   It will ensure that all partners are solution focused and bold in the decision-making and that all conflicts or potential conflicts are declared and resolved accordingly.   

The MoU recognises that both Statutory organisations and the VCSE have different forms of accountability and are answerable to other stakeholders. However, the need for integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, leadership and inclusivity is common. 

All communication will be transparent and remain committed to the vital principle of co-production.  All partners will use plain English and consider potential accessibility issues.  If needed, partners can participate, taking into account different working patterns, existing organisational commitments and capacity restrictions. During times of pressure or crisis at work, all partners will work together to determine the best approach for all partners. 

Ultimately, the MoU will become the foundation for partners to build trust and treat each other respectfully.  

 Why is it needed? 

The MoU is needed to ensure effective collaboration with the ICS. It is designed to support the development of Voluntary and Community sector capacity to increase and improve the sector’s impact for the benefit of local people. 

 Only by recognising the VCSE independence, skills and professionalism of the Statutory Organisations can shared aspirations be achieved. Local people will feel empowered and receive better services if both sectors work well together.  

 What are the aims & goals of the MoU? 

The MoU aims to champion and share knowledge of the agreement through each partner organisation. It will consider the need for: 

  1. Greater proportionality 
  2. Clearer targeting & consistency 
  3. Transparency in frameworks 
  4. Promote strategic resource focus 
  5. Enhance the capacity of VCSE organisations 

It will also recognise the importance of infrastructure to the voluntary sector and volunteering and, where appropriate, supports its development at a county and place level.  It will consider the specific needs, interests and contributions of those VCSE bodes representing excluded people. 

All partners’ goals will be to consult and ensure shared decision-making is carried out with the voluntary sector, subject to considerations of urgency, sensitivity or confidentiality.  The MoU will promote effective working relationships, consistency of approach and good practice between partners. Finally, respect and accountability to the law, and in the case of charities, observe the appropriate guidance from the Charity Commission. 


A change is coming.

Much work has been done in the background regarding making plans and drawing up strategies to embed the VCSE sector with the Integrated Care System (ICS).

We recently attended our fifth session, where we continued to develop a working strategy ready for sign-off at the end of June, in readiness for when the ICS takes over from the CCGs in July.  As you can imagine, this is a huge task and has involved a lot of representatives from our voluntary sector.  We have been working very closely with members of the CEO Network who represent all our charities, social enterprises and local community groups in our region.  Aimee Cole, the Lead Partner from NAVCA and Julie Farrow, CEO of Hunts Forum, have been responsible for spearheading the work. Working together, they have steered the meetings to ensure we deliver our proposed strategy to the Integrated Care Board (ICB) through a ‘Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)’, a document describing the board outline and accepted expectations of all parties.

What you need to know about the ICS (in a nutshell)

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Integrated Care System (ICS) will become a statutory body in July 2022 and replace the former CCGs (Community Care Groups).  The ICS brings together NHS organisations and providers, local authorities, and voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE) organisations to promote, support and improve the health and wellbeing of almost a million people living locally.

Following the ‘ICS Design Framework’ by NHS published in June 2021, the guidance concluded there was an enhanced role for the VCSE sector, not just as service providers but also in system leadership and governance.  The framework also offered flexibility In how the VCSE sector interpreted its role and recommended they form an alliance to discuss a strategy on how the VCSE sector could be embedded within Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to create a successful partnership.

VCSE Leadership Group (CEO Network)

Through our county consortia, ‘Support Cambridgeshire’, a VCSE Leadership Group was established to work alongside our existing CEO Network and bring together people who have an extensive range of voluntary sector expertise, as part of the ‘Embedding the VCSE in the ICS’ work. Collectively they also represented the VCSE at various boards and forums and were constantly able to advise the VCSE Leadership Group by providing ideas, having open discussions, giving feedback and ultimately identifying the critical infrastructure needed to work a successful partnership.

Where are we now?

We are nearly at the finish line with only a few weeks before submitting our Strategy to the ICB.  Whilst the Strategy won’t be set in stone, it will set out our current thinking on the tangible goals we want to achieve in the short, medium and long term, and it will be revisited in the next 12 months to reflect any changes as the ICS develops.  Our overarching goals within our strategy include;

  • Support and enable a thriving VCSE sector to play its part
  • Place the VCSE as an equal partner within the system
  • Work to drive change and create a tangible impact on people and communities and tackle health inequalities
  • Build robust, inclusive and empowering relationships throughout our partnership

You will be able to find more in-depth information on our progress and take a closer look around the ICS on our Support Cambridgeshire website over the forthcoming weeks.