With NHS England Health Inequalities funding secured to launch local Community Chests in place-based partnerships across North East London, work is now underway in three pilot boroughs Barking and Dagenham, Newham and Havering. These boroughs will go live with Community Chests from late 2022.
Local Community Chests will then be set up in every borough across north east London. They will provide funding directly to voluntary and community sector groups for more social prescribing activities to residents. This initiative has a particular focus on supporting under-served groups in innovative ways, and addressing health inequalities within local areas.
The key focus for this stage has been bringing together social prescribers, local authorities and local VCSFE groups to set priorities for Community Chests based on gaps in needs of patients going through social prescribing that address local health inequalities. These are informing how the application, grant distribution, monitoring & evaluation processes for the funds are being designed.
A range of different approaches are being developed in each borough. For example, in Barking and Dagenham a consortium approach to fund allocation is being trialled, which would see the development of grant-making decisions pass to the VCSFE sector. The learning from these pilots will be shared as other place-based partnerships start to set up their own Community Chests.
A Community Chest for social prescribing is a micro-grant fund for VCFSEs (voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise services) that social prescribers can refer patients to for practical help and support. It Is a local solution designed to address health inequalities and make a sustainable impact for communities.