Understanding and celebrating the role of charities in health and care across West Yorkshire
75 years ago, our National Health Service (NHS) was established. A ground-breaking change which made health and care services free at the point of access to the entire population.
Charities were a fundamental building block on which the new NHS was established.
Today we launch new research which sets out the shape, size, and economic and social value of our voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE) 75 years on, here in Yorkshire.
Largely built on the work of voluntary hospitals or charities, these organisations financed themselves and operated for the benefit of the sick poor. They operated on low budgets – barely making ends meet – but nonetheless providing quality care to their patients.
Money came from charity, hospital savings schemes, fees from those who could pay and, increasingly, from local authority grants. Hospitals were the focus for local charitable effort, run by leaders in local society and doctors’ wives.
To those of us working in and with the VCSE today, that sounds familiar, doesn’t it?!
So, what has changed for voluntary and community organisations here in West Yorkshire? What does the sector look like now? And what difference is it making?
75 years on, the VCSE remain a key partner in the delivery of health and care services and support across the country, including here in West Yorkshire.
Today, our charities, and voluntary and community organisations remain a key partner in health and care. In West Yorkshire we have an estimated:
- 13,987 VCSE sector organisations (registered and unregistered)
- 31,875 employees delivering 52.4 million working hours a year
- 126,000 volunteers giving at least 9 million hours of work valued at between £89 million and £126 million a year
- A direct economic value of £1.4 billon and a total estimated value of £5.4 billion when considering added and social value
In West Yorkshire, the VCSE sector has a strong local orientation. About a third of organisations confine their activity to local neighbourhoods or villages and about 70 per cent limit the range of their work to the local authority where they are based. These are the grass roots organisations that often provide a lifeline to individuals and communities. They are connected and trusted. And here in West Yorkshire, 30 per cent of VCSE organisations are based in the poorest, most deprived areas reaching population groups who may not be accessing statutory health and care services.
The research shows that the extent to which VCSE organisations work together is stronger in Yorkshire and Humber than in all other English regions. This reflects our commitment to, and belief in, partnership working in West Yorkshire and building models of delivery where VCSE organisations of different sizes come together to deliver contracts ensuring smaller, grass roots organisations are included.
Building a health service that was free at the point of access was ambitious and groundbreaking in 1948. It was a radical shift in how health services were delivered.
Today in the face of budget cuts, the impact of a pandemic and ever-increasing demands on our health and care system, we need to be ambitious and groundbreaking once again. Our VCSE working closely with communities continue to deliver innovative approaches which are personalised, local, inclusive and accessible, and enable people to live healthier, happier lives.
This research demonstrates the intrinsic value of the VCSE in tackling the wider determinants of health that can shape an individual's life expectancy, lifelong health, and well-being, and minimise their need to access statutory health and care services. The sector also plays a role in delivering services and support around specific health conditions, prevention, mental health, connecting with specific population groups who might otherwise not access health and care services, and doing all this in communities where people live and work and often led and shaped by local people.
We encourage you to read the research, share it widely, and use it to inform how you work with the VCSE. Let us all commit to embracing and embedding the diverse, dynamic VCSE sector we have in West Yorkshire in the way we deliver health and care.