New Partnership Manager Appointed to Lead the Health Alliance
The BOB VCSE Health Alliance welcomes Stephen Barnett as the new Partnership Manager. Stephen joins the organisation in June and brings a wealth of experience from roles within the charity and health sectors. He takes over from his predecessor Rach Stanton who helped to establish and grow the alliance to over 100 members.
The vision for the Alliance is to work together to enable new opportunities for the collective voice of the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Sector to positively impact the design and delivery of health and care services in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West, achieving change by facilitating inclusive representation and collaboration with the NHS.
Katie Higginson who is the Chairperson for the Steering Group said of the new appointment:
“We welcome Stephen who brings so much experience of building networks and exchanging knowledge. He also knows the challenges of working on the ground to deliver services and has a strong understanding of the health space which is very relevant in his role to help advocate on behalf of the Alliance and its members.”
What made you want to work for the Health Alliance?
I have crossed the border quite a few times between working with the public sector and the voluntary sector – and a lot of my most satisfying work has been supporting connections within the sector and across the borders. I like being a facilitator and convenor.
I think there’s something to be said for peer support, some of it practical and action-focused, some of it moral support to just to talk to other people who ‘get it’. When I was running a small non-profit, that’s certainly what I often sought out because it’s tough as well as meaningful to be a small charity CEO.
How do you see your role in the VCSE alliance and in wider the BOB ICS?
We certainly do not yet have an integrated care system and that’s not about the 1st July 2022 deadline, it’s about a shift in thinking and culture on all our parts. I’m still discovering what the role is – my early instinct is that it’s about multiplying the connections and enhancing empathy and understanding between colleagues in the NHS, local authorities and the voluntary sector within our integrating care system. Still I reserve the right to discover a better answer as I talk to more and more people.
How would you describe your work background?
I have had a varied career working in and around social care and health in policy and research. I had the chance to meet many inspiring and dedicated frontline service managers across the public sector and VCSE, running fantastic services in challenging environments.
I had been working mostly online since 2018 as a freelance advisor to charities and government. I was also coordinating a community dementia club for people with young-onset at the time and it was a disheartening moment when we had to stop meeting.
That was a terrific frontline job. Every Thursday I got to organise an adventurous day out for a group of charming chaps who’d led interesting and varied lives. We’d been on a boat trip on a river, we’d been we had a forest adventure including making a fire, we had taken a day trip on the train to London to go Belfast – a few of the members had served in the military.
It was a privilege to know those guys and we had great support from local Admiral Nurses who specialise in dementia.
Going online was tricky for them and their wives, so honestly it was much better to just phone round them on the landline and chat as if we were just friends catching up.
So what kind of freelance work have you done yourself?
I have a strong background in European projects and networks on social issues so I’ve been providing guidance and support to governments on promoting innovation in the European Social Fund.
I also had a really enjoyable role with our local Age UK which had been through multiple mergers to create a county-wide charity and had a lot of new NHS contracts around hospital discharge and prevention work. They needed someone to help them map the impacts they create and how to measure them so that was fascinating – their CEO was trying to think ahead to what the NHS commissioners would ask them for in the future.
What are you own experiences of the NHS?
Well, I’ve experienced excellent maternity services around the birth of my three children, including twins, which meant we got a lot more check-ups than anyone else we knew. And a relative of mine recently reached the end of a long painful journey with cancer and received fantastic support along the way from The Royal Marsden in West London. We’re now raising money in his memory for the Royal Marsden charity.
I have my vaccination story too: I stood with about a thousand 35-39 year-olds in our town park one Sunday morning to queue for a vaccine at one of the GP practices. I think I stood for about three hours but it was such a momentous experience and amazing to see so many people in one place after the first lockdown and the rule of six and 2m apart.
Meet Stephen at the next Alliance Meeting: Eventbrite
Connect on Linkedin
Notes to Editor:
BOB VCSE Health Alliance – Created to support the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector (VCSE) organisations in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and West Berkshire (BOB) to collaborate with the newly developing regional and local health systems. https://healthalliancebob.org.uk
Dawn Newton – Health Partnership Comms Lead
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