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All articles and quotes on this page draw from IVAR’s research, particularly from our work with voluntary & community organisations and our current programme Building Health Partnerships: Self-care

How to make cross sector working a success. 

The basics


What factors make it work?


  • Timing: See change as a process, not an event. Allow relationships to grow and ideas to be turned into action
  • Commitment and buy-in: Senior, diverse involvement
  • Bespoke and independent facilitation: A high level of support and access to experts
  • Dual focus: On relationship building as well as joint action
  • Not rushing into action: Participants are grappling with complex emerging structures. For new, joint initiatives to be effective, the foundations (relationships, common ground, mutual understanding) need to be in place



What are the challenges?


  • Too many competing drivers and outcome frameworks for cross sector working e.g inconsistent approaches to integration and silo working
  • The voluntary sector is diverse: there are community links to tap into and expertise, but little capacity to engage and a high risk of duplication and overlap
  • A lack of opportunity to stand back, reflect and explore possibilities to tackle the difficult issues that block progress



Now more than ever we are faced with a blizzard of acronyms, whizzing past us at pace’


Charlotte Pace, IVAR Associate

Hear from the voluntary sector


True partnership working is when you know that you both work as hard for your partner to succeed in the joint venture, as you do for your own organisation’


Jacqui Bremner, Herefordshire Carers

Hear from the public sector


Working with the voluntary and community sector is a great way to deliver local solutions’ 


Professor Mark Pietroni, Director of Public Health for South Gloucestershire


We need to work more collaboratively with the voluntary sector and with patients and carers’


Sherida Collins, Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group

Further reading


Building Health Partnerships: South Gloucestershire Case Study

South Gloucestershire faced a complex challenge to bring together all initiatives and services to better meet the needs of the local population.

Learn more about IVAR