Conversations for Change is a programme of investment in training and development for frontline VCSE staff and volunteers.

The aim is to support frontline workers to be highly skilled and confident in their work with communities.

As well as developing training offers, the programme is also considering:

  • How training can be provided in a way that builds VCSE sector capacity around supporting and developing frontline workers 
  • How to draw on and invest in the talent that already exists in the VCSE sector, including using VCSE trainers or scaling up delivery of the sectors' own training offers 

Background information

The programme began in late 2023 following a discussion with system leaders about the important role of voluntary sector staff and volunteers in supporting health and wellbeing within communities. It recognised that VCSE sector groups & organisations are trusted local sources of support, and those that work in the sector had a key role empowering people make positive changes in their lives. 

The discussion originated around tackling alcohol misuse but broadened to be about the VCSE sector's role in encouraging people to make any change that improved their life. 

Why is the programme called 'Conversations for Change'?

We know that people create momentum for change together and the quality of these frontline conversations really matters. 

The core training will be about conversational tools and techniques to have really enabling interactions with people. These skills come from the world of coaching, positive psychology and behavioural science and builds on the existing person-centred approach to working with people.

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The context of these conversation also matters – understanding how to talk positively about difficult subjects like addiction, homelessness or domestic abuse may need some additional specific training. The programme aims to work with the sector to identify these topics and useful training content. This includes working with VCSE sector groups & organisations within the county that have expertise in these areas of work.  

Progress to date

Funding has been secured to deliver this programme and a small project team of public health, NHS and VCSE sector partners (including Gloucestershire VCS Alliance) has been set up to steer the work.

The first phase of the programme is “discovery” and involves engaging with the VCSE sector to codesign the programme. This is to understand more about the sectors' priorities in regard to:

  • Upskilling frontline teams;
  • The wider work context;
  • Making training accessible to all within the sector; and
  • How the sector itself might be able to support this upskilling work.  

The timeline of work so far is below:

  • Focus Group Session - in December 2023, a focus group was held with VCSE sector representatives to begin to explore some of these issues. You can download the session report via the following weblink.
  • Sector Survey - this informed a survey that is currently open to the sector. The survey aims to broaden the collection of views and identify individuals within the VCSE sector who are interested or skilled in training and development. The survey also aims to identify any training that VCSE groups & organisations could deliver to colleagues in the sector. The survey closes on 5 July 2024. You can complete the survey via the following weblink.

In the background, the project team are also connecting with potential training providers of the core skills and VCSE locality facilitators about how local delivery might be enabled. 

What’s Next?  

Once the survey has closed, the feedback from the sector will drive the next phase of the project. This includes:

  • Starting to specify the core 'Conversations for Change' training programme
  • Identifying what further training is highlighted by the sector 
  • Connecting with those who express an interest in supporting delivery, to explore how their involvement can be enabled

How can I keep updated about the project?

We will publish updates on our website, via our social media and in our mailings.

You can follow Gloucestershire VCS Alliance on X: @GlosVCSAlliance and on Facebook: GlosVCSAlliance. You can sign up to our mailings via the following weblink.

How can I find out more about this project?

Please email any queries to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.