New Dementia Community Grants Programme

Somerset County Council is changing the way it provides day time activities for people with memory loss or dementia. They have announced a community grants programme, which is now open for applications. The initiative is aimed at supporting the development of services for people in Somerset with memory loss or dementia, over the next five years.

Grants will usually be for £250 to £10,000 per year.

The grants will:

  • Directly benefit residents of Somerset and grass roots community groups and organisations.
  • Support an increase in people with memory problems or dementia using community groups and services, even when their condition worsens and extra support is required.
  • Fund activities and services that support both Somerset County Council’s Adult Social Care clients who use Direct Payments to pay for their support, and people who pay for themselves.
  • Fund projects that become self-sufficient and sustainable

For further information please view Dementia Community Grant Outline and Dementia Community Grant EOI template

If you wish to have an informal conversation about this grant and what it can fund, please email the Adult and Health Commissioning Team at , and a member of the team will call you back.

Celebrating involvement in healthcare community grants 2018 – apply now!

NHS England are on the lookout for VCSE groups that have done some amazing patient, service-user or carer involvement work that’s improved healthcare services.

They will be awarding grants of up to £2,500 to a number of projects that showcase good practice around patient and citizen involvement in healthcare.

The  grants will be awarded to organisations that can tell the story of their patient and citizen involvement project. Using the funding, they will share what worked, how they involved patients and citizens and what impact involvement had on services. Organisations should be able to tell their story in a creative, appealing and accessible way which can include producing films, photo or audio books, leaflets and posters, graphics or comics.

NHS England knows that patient groups, VSCE organisations and a diverse range of community groups all over England are involved in shaping and improving healthcare services. It wants to encourage the promotion of learning and sharing of good practice by making funds available to groups to highlight and share their work with others.

The grants can only be awarded to a voluntary organisation. Please ensure you read the community grants guidelines document before you apply, to check that your organisation and project is eligible. If you are eligible, you will need to complete the application form by Thursday 20 September.

2018 Somerset Activity and Sport Awards

Nominations are now open for SASP‘s 2018 Somerset Activity and Sport Awards.

The awards will celebrate the achievements and successes of outstanding athletes, inspirational volunteers, great coaches, community clubs and organisations from across Somerset.

Is there somebody within your organisation who has made a fantastic contribution to community sport and physical activity? Say a big thank you by nominating them for one of the following awards:

  • Young Coach of the Year
  • Children’s Coach of the Year
  • Participation Coach of the Year
  • Young Volunteer of the Year
  • Club Volunteer of the Year
  • Club of the Year
  • Get Somerset Active
  • Contribution to School or College Sport
  • Active Workplace
  • This Girl Can
  • Sports Performer of the Year

The awards evening for the finalists will be held on Friday 19th October at Somerset County Cricket Club.

You can find out more and submit a nomination here. The deadline for nominations is Friday 31st August. 

The LGA green paper for adult social care and wellbeing – share your views

The VCSE sector is being encouraged to respond t0 The Lives we Want to Lead, the Local Government Association’s (LGA) green paper for adult social care and wellbeing.

The green green paper is only a starting point, the LGA wants to to build momentum for a debate across the country about how to fund the care we want to see in all our communities for adults of all ages, and how our wider care and health system can be better geared towards supporting and improving people’s wellbeing.

The green paper poses a series of consultation questions and the VCSE sector is invited to share its views. Click here to complete the consultation before Wednesday 26th September.

SASP launch new Active Spaces project

Somerset Activity and Sports Partnership (SASP) are excited to announce the launch of the new Active Spaces project in Sedgemoor and West Somerset. Active Spaces is a community-based activity project which offers local communities the chance to get out and get active in their local area.

SASP believes communities in the Sedgemoor and West Somerset areas will benefit from high quality exercise sessions delivered by experienced, well qualified and insured instructors. This will be provided at low cost and gives communities opportunities to come together socially whilst utilising their local open spaces. Sessions will include: family activities, fit for your life general fitness sessions, running groups and walking football. All details on location of sessions, costs and instructors, can be found on the fresh new website and Facebook page ‘ActivespacesSASP’.

This project was created to aid in combating inactivity levels in Somerset, but also to encourage families and friends to take part in fun social activity together. One in five adults in Somerset do less than 30 minutes of activity per week, and one third of adults in Somerset do less than 150 minutes of activity each week. The link between physical activity and good health is proven, and national statistics now show that 4 in 5 young people are not active enough to maintain good health.

The Active Spaces project is set to launch in August 2018 and will be starting in the following areas: Williton Memorial Ground, Watchet Memorial Ground, Nether Stowey Recreation Ground, Stogursey Victory Hall Playing fields and Manor Park in Burnham on Sea. The project is funded through EDF and the Hinkley point CIM fund and will also be working with several local partners including Sedgemoor District Council.

Gareth John, Active Spaces Project Lead says, ‘Active Spaces will offer people exciting opportunities in their local areas to move more, get active and reap the physical and emotional benefits of physical activity. We are looking forward to launching this in August’.

If you require any further information regarding the project please contact Gareth John on the following, phone 01823 653990 and email

Update – Somerset Stronger Communities, Social Prescribing Project

Social prescribing, as described by the NHS and others, links people with health problems into practical and emotional support in communities and the voluntary sector. Overall it seeks to address people’s needs in a holistic way and support individuals to take greater control of their own health and wellbeing. This can be done in different ways but many approaches involve link workers or ‘connectors’ (who work with people to identify which practical, emotional and community support can best help them achieve their goals) as well as ‘builders’ (who work within communities to ensure relevant support is available locally to meet people’s needs).

In parts of Somerset there are already some successful social prescribing projects which have improved people’s lives and are contributing to the development of stronger communities. Building on this a cross-sector group of partners [1] have been working together over the past year to explore how to spread more of this activity equitably across the county.

Research and development was supported by grants from the Life Chances Fund and South West Academic Health Science Network alongside ongoing in-kind investment from the Richmond Group of Charities, the Somerset Sustainability and Transformation Plan and Somerset Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise Strategic Forum.

Research and development took place over the period Oct 2017 to April 2018. There were three strands of work in this Development Phase:

  • A community research exercise, which focused on exploring the issues that are important to people, professionals and communities in the design process. The process used local community researchers and included a GP survey. Over 200 people and professionals were involved in the process.
  • An evidence review conducted by the University of West England, which focused on understanding evidence and best practice in a number of social prescribing approaches across Somerset and Devon, and further afield.
  • Data modelling and financial feasibility testing, conducted by OPM (now Traverse), which brought together the findings from the first two strands of work with data modelling and financial feasibility testing of different approaches, including an outcomes based contract backed by social investors.

The research found that social prescribing is an important element of the health and care system in Somerset. It creates good outcomes for people that reduce dependence on statutory services and there is evidence to support the spread of the approach sustainably and equitably across Somerset. It confirmed that there is good practice that can be built on if certain conditions are in place, notably investment in community development and infrastructure, and professionals are engaged. The research also concluded that taking a one-size fits all approach to social prescribing is not appropriate for Somerset and that locally owned and delivered models need to be developed which include the five key principles of ‘good’ social prescribing:

  • Person-centred – with conversations focused on, and connections made to community based solutions that are based on a person’s strengths and personal goals;
  • Community-building – with attention given to building on existing assets, generating social capital and local responses to fill gaps with ‘good stuff we know works’;
  • Collaborative working and communication within and between sectors – with skilled link workers that take an asset-based strength building approach to connect people into personal and community networks as well as the practical and emotional support within communities and the voluntary sector;
  • Buy-in from referring professionals; and
  • Sustainable funding (for both infrastructure and provision of ‘good stuff’ in communities where needed.)

The potential for using an outcomes-based contract backed by social investors to develop and fund social prescribing was explored.

While this approach to financing was judged to be feasible, commissioners felt the work would be better mainstreamed and pursued through the new Somerset Health and Care Strategy. On this basis, the project partners did not apply to the next stage of the Life Chances Fund.

The work undertaken since the initial grant was made will now feed into, and help drive, Somerset’s new Health and Social Care strategy, Fit for My Future, going forward. With the remaining grant funding, work will continue with the local voluntary and community sector to explore the gaps and opportunities for enabling local development and delivery of social prescribing in the areas where it does not yet exist. At the same time, work will be undertaken through the strategy to develop a county-wide framework to ensure equity of access, quality assurance and a shared approach to evaluation and monitoring. This Design Phase will continue throughout the rest of 2018.

In the Design Phase two tracks of work are now underway. First through the Health and Care Strategy, which will be going out to public engagement later this year on a set of proposals. Second through more detailed design with citizens, communities, professionals and the voluntary sector to identify what gaps can be filled through greater coordination and where investment is required in community infrastructure, activities and support. The Strategic Forum will be coordinating this aspect of the work with the local Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector in partnership with the Richmond Group. An update outlining next steps and ways to be involved will be given at the next meeting of the Strategic Forum.

The aim is that this work will be completed in line with the Health and Care Strategy timeline. High-level proposals will be submitted in July 2018, followed by more detailed design to develop and strengthen the approach for spreading social prescribing equitably and sustainably in 2019.

[1] with representatives from  the Somerset Health and Wellbeing Board, the Richmond Group of Charities, the Somerset Sustainability and Transformation Plan, Somerset Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise Strategic Forum, the South West Academic Heath Science Network, the Somerset Activity Sports Partnership, the Clinical Commissioning Group, adult social care, public health and communities department of Somerset County Council

Views wanted to help improve Somerset’s failing 111 service

Somerset residents are being asked for their views on using the county’s 111 non-emergency phone line.

The county’s independent health and care champion, Healthwatch Somerset, is asking people to share their experiences of using the service – so that the public voice can be fed into any decisions made by the commissioners later this year.

The Care Quality Commission recently rated the NHS 111 non-emergency phone line in Somerset as ‘requires improvement for being safe and effective’. The survey by Healthwatch Somerset aims to capture the patient voice to ensure their views are taken into account.

This is ahead of the move to a new Integrated Urgent Care Service for the county where Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group will be incorporating the views of service users and the public into the development of the new service model.

Emily Taylor, Manager at Healthwatch Somerset, said:

“We feel that we are undertaking this piece of work at a critical point in time. We have seen no evidence that patient feedback is being collected about the service and therefore the views of the users are not being considered in decision making.

“Going forward, we want to be in a position to let Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group know where the issues are and actively encourage changes to be made”.

Healthwatch Somerset has a seat on the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group’s Governing Body and will monitor any actions taken following the survey.

If you would like to give feedback, take part in the survey here, contact Healthwatch Somerset at, or phone 01278 26440.  Please note that your feedback will be kept anonymous.

Work Underway to Transform Health and Social Care

Plans to review how health and social care is provided across Somerset have been revealed today.

Somerset CCG, the organisation that plans and buys healthcare services for Somerset residents, and Somerset County Council, responsible for providing social care services, agreed today at CCGs governing body to work together on a joint programme called “Fit for the Future”.

They will work with doctors, nurses and other health and social care professionals, patients and other service users, and the wider public to look at the best option for future health and social care provision in the county. There are some significant challenges:

  • We all want to enhance both the quality and experience of care


  • an ageing population living with more complex illnesses is placing growing demands on services
  •  access to health and care services differs in different parts of the county; in some areas provision is weak and current expenditure isn’t always targeted as well as it should be to where it’s most needed

At the same time

  • some of our services face real challenges in their ability to recruit and retain doctors, nurses, specialist consultants, care and social workers
  • financial pressure on both health and social care budgets are considerable – there’s an increasing gap between the money we have to spend and the demand we face.

The announcement was made against a background of huge public interest nationally in how health and social care services are run and funded into the future.

In Somerset, the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Somerset County Council (SCC) will review five key areas:

  • urgent and emergency care
  • proactive care for frail and elderly people
  • planned care such as hip replacements
  • children and maternity care
  • care for people living with mental health and learning disabilities

The “Fit for the Future” programme will look at the care patients and residents need, where and how it is best provided and how people can expect health and social care provision to look over a long-term timeframe.

One of the key requirements of the review is to involve patients, service-users and members of the public at every stage.

“We are launching our “Fit for the Future” programme with an appeal for the public to be aware, to be involved and to come forward to help us shape health and social care services for now and the future,” said CCG’s Programme Director Dr Rosie Benneyworth. “This is a hugely important piece of work; we want to make sure every pound we have is spent well in Somerset. The stark truth is that if we do nothing, we face a growing deficit in just a few years – £175million in 2020/21 alone and a total of £600million over the five years leading up to it – and that is clearly unsustainable.”

“The launch of our programme is very timely bearing in mind the wider national debate; joining up health and social care together will be better for everybody, and help us to use our budgets more effectively,” said Somerset County Council’s Director of Public Health Trudi Grant: “We very much want to hear from the public directly about how they believe we can bring about change that works for everyone. It is a challenge, it will involve difficult choices, but it is the right thing to do and we really want to get the public involved.”

Spark launches Wellbeing South Somerset

Spark, with support from the NHS Symphony Programme, has launched a new website to promote health and wellbeing in South Somerset.

The site, Wellbeing South Somerset, features a comprehensive directory of support, where people can search through hundreds of local services, groups, and activities that could improve their wellbeing, as well as health-boosting self-management tools and tips.

Matt Day, Health & Wellbeing Partnerships Lead at Spark, said:

“We’re really excited to launch the Wellbeing South Somerset site. The directory, which is based on Health Connections Mendip’s successful model, will be a link that connects people with a huge range of community resources that could help them feel better, from lunch clubs and walking groups, to condition-specific support groups, and even housing and debt advice.”

You can access the website at

Wellbeing South Somerset has been funded by the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group.

Community groups and charities who would like to submit a listing to be included in the Directory can email

Kings Fund Report: Commissioner perspectives on working with the VCSE sector

The King’s Fund was commissioned by the Department of Health to conduct research that would explore how and why clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and local authorities chose to engage with the VCSE sector.

Commissioner perspectives on working with the VCSE sector first sets out the methodology, used and then presents their findings on the factors that underpin the adoption of different approaches. It discusses how commissioners’ perceptions of their own strategic role, as well as their views on what role the VCSE sector plays in the local area, appear to exert a strong influence on commissioning decisions.

Key messages

  • There is wide variation in the way commissioners engage with the VCSE sector. Some commissioners saw their role solely as stimulating a market of providers, with no particular interest in creating a strong VCSE sector. Others had made a clear choice about the value of the VCSE sector as a critical player in developing asset-based approaches to care, engaging VCSE organisations as key partners in co-production of health and care outcomes.
  • The primary drivers for choosing a commissioning approach are local, not national. Strong local leadership, often political, and relationships with the sector are important to creating a partnership-based approach in the face of sometimes seemingly conflicting national priorities.
  • Most, if not all, of the commissioners we spoke to had heard of the Social Value Act and the Care Act, but their knowledge and use of these national legislative powers varied widely, from those that actively used them to support their commissioning intentions to those who were only minimally aware of them.
  • Co-production – sitting down with VCSE organisations as partners and equals – requires strong and mature relationships both within the sector and between the sector and commissioners. These relationships require time and attention to develop and maintain, and leaders of commissioning organisations need to be clearer about the need to invest in relationship-building.
  • While the NHS five year forward view outlines a commitment to developing stronger partnerships with VCSE organisations as part of a ‘new relationship with patients and communities’, in many areas commissioners are not prioritising these relationships.
  • Changes to commissioning may raise more challenges for successful co-production. As integrated care organisations develop, it is unclear who bears responsibility for supporting and developing community assets. There is a risk that more transactional approaches could develop in the absence of clear incentives to involve VCSE organisations in co-producing commissioning intentions.
  • Commissioners reported that they face intense pressure to deliver improved value for money and better outcomes. They were not convinced that grants were inherently better than contracts, rather they emphasised the importance of appropriate and proportionate use of whichever mechanism was chosen
  • Information governance emerged as one of the most challenging issues around commissioning health and care services from VCSE organisations. For some, this was a serious barrier that prevented VCSE organisations from entering the marketplace.
  • The VCSE sector has a role in coming together to provide a strong and unified voice as it engages with commissioners. This requires leadership from within the sector to manage competition between different organisations. Strong leadership is essential to build collaboration and partnerships within the sector and with commissioners.

You can read the full report here.