In December 2023 we invited representatives from VCSE sector groups and organisations in Gloucestershire to our first 'Conversations for Change' co-design session.

'Conversations for Change' aims to enable staff members within VCSE sector groups and organisations in the county to open up conversations with individuals about health improvements they can make. Recognising that this can be challenging, we are working in partnership with NHS Gloucestershire ICB to develop a series of training and coaching support sessions to enable team members within VCSE sector groups/organisations to be able to have these conversations more effectively. 

About the first session

The first session was hosted by Matt Lennard (Chief Officer, Gloucestershire VCS Alliance) and Caitlin Lord (Project Manager - Healthier Communities & Individuals Team, NHS Gloucestershire ICB). During the session the group explored the question “How can we understand and develop the capability of the VCSE Sector workforce, to have conversations that challenge, encourage, and empower people to make positive change?”. 

You can download the slides from the first session here. You can also download the session report here.

Next steps

We will be organising a follow up session over the coming months and will send out invitations in our VCSE Sector News Bulletin. You can find out more about our News Bulletin and how to sign up here. If you or any members of your team were unable to attend the first session, you are welcome to join us for the next session. If you would like to speak to our team about this work, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will get back to you.

Background information about this work

The 'Problem' - We know that making change in our lives to improve our health and wellbeing can be difficult. Supporting people do that is the role of everyone in the system, enabling people to find their own best solution and giving them the knowledge, tools and encouragement to make important changes in their lives. However workers tell us that talking to someone about their unhealthy behaviours (e.g. smoking, drug or alcohol use or anti-social behaviour) can be difficult as it can feel provocative, judgemental or even hypocritical. This can mean opportunities to help someone recognise a problem, see possibilities, and make change are missed. 

The 'Opportunity' - Coaching approaches and behavioural skills, give workers the conversational tools to feel confident in these difficult situations. It can enable them to have honest, supportive and open conversations, that engage and positively challenge people to make change. Upskilling around these approaches has been running in the ICS for some time, and though VCSE staff have participated, uptake has been predominantly from statutory sector staff. This ICS funded programme aims to develop something similar but bespoke for VCSE staff. This is in recognition of the sectors vital role in supporting individuals be active participants in their health and wellbeing and addressing the inequalities that exist across communities around health and wellness.

Next Steps: Programme Design - The intention is to design a programme with and for the VCSE sector, tailored to that work context. This will consider the aims and particular needs of VCSE staff and volunteers, how to create opportunities for all to participate, and what support is needed to turn this learning into practice.

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Support for the VCSE sector in Gloucestershire

We provide a range of support for VCSE sector groups & organisations of all shapes and sizes in Gloucestershire, including fully funded training & events, a range of thematic mailings, regular news updates, free membership and help recruiting volunteers.

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