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Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and care partnership logo.

Bringing together VCFSEs and PCNs


Resources developed through Lancashire and South Cumbria’s test, learn and review initiative

With special thanks arrow""


With special thanks

to the representatives of organisations involved in the work.

This page provides starting points and inspiration for Primary Care Networks (PCN) looking to work in collaboration with the voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise sector (VCFSE).


Resources are based on our work as a learning partner to the Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System, to create and sustain meaningful connections in hyper-local, cross-sector partnerships, as part of their test, learn and review initiative.


Build a picture of the ingredients that are needed – almost like a blueprint for effectiveness, drawn from what is working already and then adapting the model.


VCFSE leader

The 5 areas of the Lancashire and South Cumbria ICS.

IVAR was commissioned to be a Learning Partner to the Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System, alongside voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise sector (VCFSE) partners and Primary Care Networks (PCNs) in five areas, namely Central Lancashire, Pennine, Blackpool Wyre & Fylde, West Lancashire and Morecombe Bay/South Cumbria to facilitate emerging learning across a range of partners as part of their test, learn & review initiative.


The aim was to harness local leadership by bringing together VCFSE partners and PCNs – to maximise the potential of communities and to deliver improved health outcomes for local people. This in the context of the changing role of commissioning with a more community-centred focus, in a future Integrated Care System (ICS).


For more information on the local areas, please click on the links below:


Central Lancashire

Fylde Coast

Morecambe Bay

Pennine Lancashire

West Lancashire



We’ve identified nine puzzle pieces for creating connections that enable meaningful collaboration. More details can be found by clicking the drop-down ‘the pieces in detail’.

How to build an effective partnership

A puzzle of partnership working with 9 pieces.

1. Share resources


Think about what can be achieved if, often individually limited, resources are shared across the entire system. How could you approach this?


4. Shared leadership


Explore connections with relevant work that encourages shared leadership at the neighbourhood and Integrated Care Partnership level.

7. Infrastructure


Demystify your infrastructure to ensure all partners understand each other’s set-ups; and recognise that collaboration needs to be resourced.


2. Roles


Understand your individual and collective roles in the local and wider systems, and what ‘working together‘ means.


5. Acknowledge differences


Take a ground-up approach that acknowledges differences in local populations, and introduce clear structures for partnership working to sustain collaboration. 


8. Language 


Establish a common language — the word ‘partner‘ might mean different things to different people. 



3. Collaborative champions


Identify individuals who will step across organisational boundaries and seek opportunities for meaningful collaboration.


6. Nurture relationships 


Take time to step back and work on relationships with partners to ensure you aren’t making unhelpful assumptions or creating barriers.


9. Reach


Appreciate and evaluate how the partnership has allowed you to extend your reach and better support local people.


How is this useful?

Sonakshi Anand, Project Manager
Charlotte Pace, research associate at IVAR.


We hope the learning from Lancashire and South Cumbria’s test, learn and review initiative inspires your thinking around collaborative working. Insights were drawn from the day-to-day working of committed cross-sector leaders across the Integrated Care System, who openly and honestly shared their highs and lows, and their successes and challenges, of collaboration. From listening to and working alongside partners, we have been able to purposefully design a collection of resources that applies to any stage of joint-action – from first steps to strengthening partnerships.


Sonakshi Anand, Senior Researcher, and Charlotte Pace, Research Associate at IVAR

Blogs and events

Health partnership representatives in Pennine.

20 July 2021

What good looks like: Example of cross-sector working in Pennine

Angela Allen, Elaine Barker, Tim Birch, Christine Blythe, Andrea Dixon, Vicky Shepherd

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Deborah La Gette & Louise Peacock

12 October 2020

How we set up a social prescribing service during lockdown

Deborah La Gette & Louise Peacock | Social Prescribing Link Workers - Lytham St Anne’s Primary Care Network

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Blogs and events


Learn more about IVAR