Voluntary Action Camden

20th October Voluntary Action Forum: Health Inequalities

This forum we spoke about the Health Inequalities that have been made painfully visible during the pandemic. This is a an opportunity to hear what has been done in the borough in the last year on health inequalities and to find out next steps and plans for the future and follow up on the July 2020 Forums on inequalities and disproportionality.

Agenda for this session:-

11.00 – 11.05:           Introductions / Apologies.

11.05 – 11.15:           Camden Health Watch – Shelly Khan HI Update.

11.15 – 11.20:           Jo Reeder – NCL CCG Inequalities Fund.

11.20 – 11.25:           Annabel Collins – Ageing Better in Camden.

11.25 – 11.35:           Chikwaba Oduka – Umoya HI Update, formally The African Health Forum

11.35 – 11.45:           BAME Funding Programme / HI Objectives revisited.

11.45 – 11.55:           Karen Martins – Progression Fund / Q & A (Camden Council – open discussion).

11.55 – 12.00:           VAC’s HI Survey / End.

More useful information from the sessions chat:

Camden Disability Action sent apologies and an update. Their Health Inequalities work is also rooted in the lockdown where people with disabilities found themselves unable to get about / completely excluded. CDA have been developing community journalism and reporting on access issues in Camden. You can get onto the website via this link, and anyone who wants to participate should contact CDA https://camdendisabilityaction.org.uk/camden-disabled-peoples-voices/

James Fox from Camden – Just to flag, the 6-week consultation for Camden’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy is scheduled to open on the 1st November. The website for the consultation should go live next week, we will also be able to provide paper copies of the survey when the consultation opens.
The three proposed focused areas in the strategy are:
• Community connectedness and friendships
• Healthy and ready for school
• Good work and employment
We would love to hear your thoughts on the strategy, and would be grateful if you could share the consultation with your networks when it opens.
We would be happy to come to any upcoming meetings or events to discuss the strategy further. If you have any questions, please feel free to email – james.fox@camden.gov.uk

21st July Voluntary Action Forum: Plans, Learning and Challenges Moving Forward

Recording of this session Password:Ej1#r+ee
Participants list for this session
Camden Carers Presentation

This VAC forum was about the new reality – How have your Plans, Learning and Challenges moved forward?

~ As all restrictions come to an end what will you be doing to bring services and activities to Camden residents?

~ How has this changed from your pre-pandemic activities?

~ Updates from Camden Carers, Time2Space, Castlehaven and much more! checkout the recording for more information

Other info from chat:

Diana Foster – We also provided online learning – we provided a terms of online history for Edith Neville Primary – https://aspaceforus.club/learning/ output can be seen here! https://aspaceforus.club/exhibition-edith-neville-primary-school/

16th June Voluntary Action Forum: Launch of the Google Grants Scheme

Recording of this meeting Password: @$9zS5w0
Participants list for this session
Forum Agenda
Google Grant Presentation

At this forum we made soft launch of our Google Grants scheme which is aimed giving grants to small organisations get back to doing there sessions in “real life” rather than online sessions.

More information on this scheme can be found here on our Google Grants page https://vac.org.uk/get-support/room-hire-google-grant-scheme/

19th May Voluntary Action Camden Forum: Manifesto for the Camden VCS – what does the sector need now?

This forum wasn’t recorded.  We discussed a number of manifesto proposals set out in this presentation:

Voluntary Action Camden Forum Manifesto Presentation

You can contribute your ideas to our wall of ideas here:



1.11.00 Intro and welcome (Kevin)
2. 11.05 Membership (Donna) Voluntary Action Camden Membership Presentation
3.11.10 Why these things? (Kevin)
4.11.15 Group Work (shared on Padlet) https://padlet.com/info15870/iup02p5lpx1bkcbg
a. Each group take 4 items
b. Clarify, debate, decide
c. Anything missing?
5.11.35 Feedback and discussion
6.11.50 Prioritise
7.11.55 Next steps how to get involved (Donna)
8.12.00 END


Thanks to all those who took part:  Participants List


We agreed to revisit this work at the September Voluntary Action Forum on 15th September.

24th March Voluntary Action Camden Forum: Lottery Fund Update, Evaluation Exchange, VAC Social Prescrbing Update & More

Recording of this meeting password: 0i.*FU%A
Participants list for this session here
Voluntary Action Camden Forum Presentation
Big Lottery Presentation
VAC GAP analysis Care Navigation and Social Prescribing Service data Jan

At this forum our agenda was the following:

UCL Evaluation Exchange programme – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-evaluation-exchange-connecting-the-know-how-to-the-how-to-tickets-145521405441
If you have questions: r.unstead-joss@ucl.ac.uk
National Lottery Update
Gaps in Provision (Data from VAC’s Care Nav / Social Prescribing

From our discussion we asked what your beneficiaries needs fall into and to rank them, below was the outcome using Menti (as for those that are other see below):

Other – unemployment issues
Other is Lack of Employment opportunities

Some details of Thriving Communities here https://vac.org.uk/voluntary-action-camden-e-bulletin-4th-december-2020/

24th February Voluntary Action Camden Forum: New Health Inequalities Network & Funding for BAME Orgs

Recording of this meeting 
Participants list for this session here
Voluntary Action Camden Forum Presentation

At this forum we spoke about a new fundraising support with BAME organisations in Camden and a new Health Inequalities Network

We also broke up to small groups and discussed 3 question, below are some of the answers that were given:

1. What do you think the priorities of the HI Network should be going forward?

· Small groups struggling – support for these to have a voice
· Organisational Development needed to make a difference.
· Access to funding difficult, so this project is timely
· Organisations just want to exist / continue to exist – many have disappeared in the last 10 years.
· Dispel the idea / current narrative, that smaller community groups are not sustainable because of lack of support

2. What do you want to get from the HIN for your organisation/community?

· Training for volunteers – lots of people in the community with free time who want to help but can’t get access to training.
· Safer recruitment of volunteers – standard and quality of work that’s involved, not any and every one can / should volunteer.
· Technology / digital tech training – most don’t know how to use Zoom / smart devices / have assess / basic web design – pages they can share information.
· Volunteers are another way of getting information out to the community so this needs to be utilised.
· Better connectivity on what’s working / not working with NHS – empty sessions / better promotion of services from GP’s.
· What NHS / Public services are doing currently – a place to get updates and feedback our comments.

3. How do you want to engage with HIN? Type of communications, frequency of meetings etc

· Pandemic highlighted new ways of working, but we still need to meet when we can safely / reconnect.
· Current Zoom meetings days / times / duration not easy for all to engage and we need to find the right balance.
· Virtual meeting fatigue – adding to the problem of mental health.
· People sitting in meeting after meeting talking and nothing gets done.
· Work more in partnership; bigger organisations making bids with smaller, as this is how many have been sustained throughout the pandemic.
· An email hub where we can connect and share / create fundraising ideas / links.
· Trust: faith / cultural leaders connecting in and disseminating information to communities better.

20th January Voluntary Action Camden Forum: General VCS Updates and Latest Funding Opportunities

Happy New Year! 

Recording of this meeting – Passcode : qs@?$J@4

Participants list for this session here

Voluntary Action Camden Upcoming grants Powerpoint

This forum was an opportunity to update the forum on your all doing as well as a briefing on a selection of the new funds that have launched in the new year as well as an update on the Thriving Communities initiative.

Useful links / Information from the chat:

Kentish Town City Farm – For protected visits, please email simone@ktcityfarm.org.uk

Skills Exchange Project – www.seproject.co.uk

Unity Works – quick update on our services. We support people with a learning disability through Camden and also other parts of London. We have been doing face to face sessions under community, health and wellbeing – though have now taken a three week pause since 6th Jan. Employment support remains through online/calls and we have a full weekly timetable on zoom for people to access plus social media groups.

Citizens Advice Camden – to refer vulnerable Camden residents to Citizens Advice Camden please email contact@camdencabservice.org.uk

West Euston Partnership – link to the WEP Newsletter https://www.westeustonpartnership.org/about-us-2/newsletters/

Likewise – a small creative project, a chance for people to reflect on their experiences of 2020. Please feel free to pass on to people you work with! https://likewise.org.uk/community-projects/different-boats-postcard-project/

Bengali Workers Association – We have a Elderly outreach project for 50+ Bangladeshi residence in Camden running from last year Nov 2020 to refer or more information please contact me, Minara@bwa-surma.org . Also we need support of volunteers so please if anyone can support will be great. We are also going to launch soon another food parcel-programme for families in need due to covid as a result, loss of income and other from South Asian background. Can have referrals and support up to 50 families for more information please do get in contact with me. Would love to work together and see where there are gaps.

Camden Carers Service – If you are in contact with any unpaid carers; family of friends please refer them to us info@camdencarers.org.uk. We have lots of services to support all unpaid carers aged 18+ Many people are finding themselves new to the caring role as a result of family/friends contacting COVID /long term COVID

POHWER – details are: www.pohwer.net contact details are: 0300456 2370 or pohwer@pohwer.net

Working Men’s College providing Free employability, arts and crafts, cookery, ESOL classes. Interested in making partnerships to offer these services to community centres/charities etc. Particularly interested in hearing from other organisations who would like to ‘progress’ their clients onto accredited employability longer courses. Please email: patriciat@wmcollege.ac.uk

Community Champions Kentish Town – is a volunteer led health and wellbeing project and we are hosting our first welcome and training session on Feb 3rd online. All volunteers will be supported and make a difference in their local community – all will receive their own tailored development plan and other benefits. Please get in touch if you know anybody local to Kentish Town who would benefit from volunteering and are passionate about their community. james@elfridacamden.org.uk (sister projects happening in Kilburn and Regent’s Park estate – I can forward all referrals for these areas)

Lifeafterhummus Community Benefit Society –  Providing weekly food parcels to circa 75 homes a week. We are taking on board another 25 homes. We are focusing on homes that have been hit financially by the pandemic. Referrals can be done on www.lifeafterhummus.com , my email is Farrah@lifeafterhummus.com – We currently have 50+ local volunteers who help us to collect surplus from 45 stores locally, saving us £450 a week. Happy to share how we do this, contact us for a chat with our Food Surplus Logistics Coordinator. We are particularly keen on connecting on employability.

16th December Voluntary Action Camden Forum: Why Neighbourhoods Matter

Why Neighbourhoods Matter

Recording of this meeting
Participants list for this session here

Aim: To look at the purpose of the neighbourhoods agenda and build the knowledge of the VCS

Powerpoint 1 VAC Forum Powerpoint
Powerpoint 2  Community Connectedness
Powerpoint 3 Camden ICP Presentation
Powerpoint 4 Social Care Neighbourhoods

Useful Links :

NHS Strategy – Integrating care: Next steps to building strong and effective integrated care systems across England
LB Camden ASC Strategy: Supporting people, connecting communities
Notes of the VCS Partners Meeting Neighbourhoods discussion
Kingsfund Guide to Integrated Care Systems

3 questions made during a break out room discussion:

Q1. What are the opportunities for health/social care/VCS to connect people with activities/services?

Brendan – CDA – Focus a lot on people who are already unwell. Prevention is a big part and many people are going about their normal lives so are not linked up with health/care/VCS orgs

Lots of people who do not know about VCS orgs or are not confident about using a VCS organisation. This can be a barrier.

Maddie – Question the Winch are asking!! Who are the first person they go to when they need help? Not health and care organisations (or VCS), but relatives. How do we changes this mindset?

Beneficiaries can become attached to one organisation rather than going to new support organisations. Often VCS have to help people make those connections. Can there be greater collaboration.

Camden is a big borough. Can be a challenge to understand the lay of the land.

People have their definition of where they belong and do not know what we mean by neighbourhoods or community.

Person-Centeredness – Often the first part, about engaging with someone about what they want for their health and care/support. But it does not always get carried through or the system does not manage a person’s expectation about what is actually possible.

VCS spend a lot of time with people and have a lot time to understand what people are saying and want. This can be lost when people are having short/one-off conversations with other colleagues (health and social care).

VCS engagement with this agenda is likely to be at neighbourhood level and practical. ‘Who do I talk to?’ e.g. having key contacts in e.g. social care, health etc would be of useful.

Communications are key: favoured central channels which can be cascaded.
Mentioned Greenwich CCG setting up a what’s app broadcast group for messages to be shared.
Other suggestions were a periodic newsletter
Larger organisations are key to helping share information with smaller organisations.
Can’t forget the voice of the resident
Need engagement at PCN level.
Focus on real people, they don’t understand how this fits together – how can we better facilitate this? People need to develop the priorities, both neighbourhood and strategic.
Developing peer support
Remember to include everyone in engagement including young people.
Commissioning at a local level need to ensure this happens through ICS/ICP.
How can help people move between opportunities, accepting DBS checks done by other organisations.
Opportunities to engage more because on Zoom etc. Although mindful of digital divide.
Shared training, DBS checks, help people with setting projects up (templates, documents etc).
How do we include people who are not placed based: students, homeless, people who move frequently. Opportunities for virtual groups.

Q2. Other things VCS should do to engage with this agenda? – Council routes? NHS routes?

What is the expectation on VCS organisations to get them together and engage. Lots of VCS organisations do not have the funding/resources to bring people together. This can mean that those that do have resource are the organisations that have their voices heard.

No Disabled persons organisations, community centres, young people’s voices on ICP.

Voluntary organisations have a lot of knowledge and valuable information to be fed into the strategy

Commissioning doesn’t currently fit a sa way of resourcing VCS support – not straightforward service / activity delivery, lots of additional aspects. More holistic / lifestyle change culture. Commissioners need to understand VCS offer and value.

Comes down to communication again. Perhaps a separate newsletter.
Sharing models of good practice.
Need to be mindful of targeting engagement – numerous interdependencies in ICP, want to join up on approaches to VCS and residents so less impact on time.
Issues around co-production. Can’t be just a tick box exercise.
How does NCL work together – models of care/examples of what worked – build on this best practice.
Importance of trust.
Mapping what VCS offer including knowledge, skills and training. Capturing these skills. City and Hackney paper? Example of how this has been done.
Who is responsible for integrating and co-ordinating this work? Communicating that the Terms of Reference for the Health and Wellbeing has changed. How are voluntary representatives chosen? Who is accountable and how do they work with everyone?

Q3. Things that VAC could do to help that engagement?

Kate – Do organisations know who each other are?

Can VAC do more to provide a way to inform VCS organisations of each other and their offer.

Joint directories of service

Maybe most important aspect is how VAC facilitate the capturing of residents voices, who are, ultimately the beneficiary of the services and support.

VAC needs more support from statutory bodies, council CCG in representing the sector.

Data – better sharing, funding it, structuring it and telling the stories around it. VAC could hold a session on this and share experience e.g. what works to engage and influence in this environment.
Messages need to be practical, simple, welcoming, transparent, inclusive. Role for VAC in this.
Understanding that these things will mean different things to do different people.
Using other partners when VAC can’t attend meetings.

18th November Voluntary Action Camden Forum: Overcoming Digital Divide

Overcoming Digital Divide

Recording of the meeting Passcode:  tw^dgL9c

Participant list for this session here

For this months forum we looked into overcoming the digital divide. We know many have be working to help residents to get online and use technology, overall we found that the main issue is access to broadband.

Resources and information mentioned in the workshop:

West Euston Partnership newletter can be accessed here: https://www.westeustonpartnership.org/about-us-2/newsletters/

Anyone wanting to explore online community courses (arts, crafts, exercise, digital skills, employability) with WMC, please get in touch: patriciat@wmcollege.ac.uk
WMC courses currently running (face to face – covid secure: https://www.wmcollege.ac.uk/courses/computing-and-digital-skills/1018

Restart Project can possibly help with repairing tablets: https://therestartproject.org

The resource pack ABC and NLC put together can be found alongside other info on the work our partners are doing on the digital divide http://www.ageingbetterincamden.org.uk/bridging-the-digital-divide

https://abilitynet.org.uk/ – Providing Free Online Tech Support and IT Courses;
https://wavelength.org.uk/what-we-do/ – WaveLength gives media technology to lonely people living in poverty.
https://www.onlinecentresnetwork.org/projects/DevicesDotNow – Everyone Connected (formerly DevicesDotNow) is a project aiming to improve people’s quality of life that has been made harder during the Covid-19 pandemic through lack of access to digital technology and skills training.

Adult Community Learning which can help with digital skills: https://www.camden.gov.uk/about-adult-community-learning

Unity Works – We are still helping people with learning disabilities to get connected and learn skills (face to face) to access zoom and WhatsApp. We also have a full weekly zoom timetable for people with LD to access. Broadband access has been a big challenge or helping people to connect to public wifi/understanding what is safe, inputting passwords etc

Winch – Tablets and phones were provide to some of our service users – Opened courses with parents for children under 5 and/or new parents. Learnt that people are craving face to face but making sure its all Covid Secure. Children and Young people had problems with getting online access where we tried to assist.

CDA – Funding has been provided for technology support. Service not launched just yet, looking at the service design and possible collaborations with other groups. Looked into some face to face opportunities to assist/coached with tech at the greenwood centre (covid safe). Also for laptops and assisted technology depending on needs. Possibly also having a kind of cafe so people can meet in person and online to be assisted on using technology.