METRO Charity's Blog

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METRO is an equality and diversity charity providing health, community and youth services in England. For the last 35 years we’ve been working in Greenwich and beyond to work for a world where diversity is celebrated, difference respected and valued, and where optimum health and well-being for all is a collective goal.

We’ve spent a lot of time working with the NHS and other public services. We think it’s really valuable to do so, and are looking forward to being part of the discussions on the future of health and care in Greenwich and south east London on 23 July. Places are still available on the ‘Our Healthier South East London’ website.

We believe the Voluntary Community and Faith Sector (VCS) has a really important role to play in the future of the NHS, particularly when it comes to social isolation, social prescribing, prevention and supporting people closer to or at home. We fully endorse the priorities of the NHS 10 year plan and believe it is vital to engage the VCS in these conversations. Moving forward, we recommend the development of a more strategic engagement strategy between the NHS and the voluntary sector.

A key element of the plan, is the priority around Services Working Together. To some extent this is already happening in the borough. For example, In partnership with RBG Health and Adult Services we set up and co-chair the boroughs Social Isolation Strategy Group whose members also includes representatives from  key local voluntary organisations, Greenwich Clinical Commissioning Group and Public Health. The Group exists to provide a regular focus on social isolation and loneliness, coordinate where possible the range of services and activities that aim to alleviate isolation and identify where there are gaps in support.  Many of the actions and targets in the Social Isolation Strategy Group Strategy 2019-2022, have synergy with the government’s 3 overarching goals in its ‘Strategy for Tackling Loneliness’.  We are therefore delighted to see the NHS also has a long-term long term priority around ‘Social isolation and working with charities’

Metro also fully supports the priorities on ensuring that everyone “gets the best start in life by supporting continuity of care for women in pregnancy”, as we believe that there is ample research evidence to show this achieves better outcomes. We think that there is a gap in support for mothers’ mental health needs in post-birth. There are a few groups in the voluntary sector that support mothers and there could be opportunities for improved joint working with statutory services on this, for lower level needs as they emerge and for “step-down” support from specialist services.

The voluntary sector in Greenwich where our head office is situated, has a history of integrated working. METRO GAVS - which provides a strategic leadership role in representing and building the capacity of the voluntary, community and faith sector in Greenwich, was a key partner in the Greenwich Co-ordinated Care project which won a national award in the Transformation in Health and Social Care Category at the Improvement and Efficiency Awards 2014.

METRO look forward to the summaries of discussions so far and continuing to work with the NHS locally and beyond on the next steps.