Why I’m proud to join Newcastle’s collaborative team –
Pam Smith, Chief Executive, Newcastle City Council

As a recent arrival to the city, it’s clear to me that the relationships between key organisations across the city have been critical to supporting residents and businesses during the pandemic, as well as setting a strong foundation of resilience for the future.

Coming from the other side of the Pennines, where health and care have been part of the mayoral combined authority for some time, I’ve been amazed by the maturity and strength of the Collaborative Newcastle partnership.

The partnership brings together some of the city’s largest organisations to positively support our communities. From a focus on improving and integrating our health and care system, the partnership is now working across social, economic and environmental themes to really tackle the inequalities too many residents in our city face – inequalities that for some Covid has increased, and for others entered their lives for the first time.

Last year, work to support care home residents and staff during the pandemic, wonthe Health and Local Government Partnership Award at the national HSJ Awards. The judges were impressed by the creation of a system of daily calls to provide consistent and comprehensive advice, guidance, and rapid response support to all 46 care and residential homes in the City, and the expansion of the existing nursing support team to offer wide-ranging expertise across the care and residential home sector.

The good practice forged in crisis is now continuing, with the team providing care homes with practical in-person support, treatment for residents’ mental and physical health needs.

One of the things I have been most impressed by in the way that Collaborative Newcastle works has been recognising the importance of listening to local people and ensuring their voices are heard. A great example that the council has been leading is the Children and Families Newcastle project which works with schools, voluntary and community sector organisations and children, young people, and families themselves. The project is redesigning the support on offer so that it’s much more proactive, joined-up and tailored to families’ individual needs, with users directly involved in shaping the support on offer. The project has been really welcomed by local families and we are planning to roll it out further.

During the first national lockdown in March 2020, Newcastle City Council implemented its Citylife Line service to provide residents with support if they were struggling to cope with the physical and emotional barriers presented by the strict measures.

Managed by the council’s Welfare and Wellbeing team, this service partnered voluntary and community organisations across the City to provide an outstanding level of support to local people. From using volunteers to do shopping for residents, signposting to food banks for those in need, to finance advice and checking in on people over the phone, this service was widely used and appreciated by our communities and helped to mitigate some of the stresses of dealing with lockdown periods.

From a Council perspective, Collaborative Newcastle is a really powerful way of making the Newcastle pound work harder and go further, at a time when the public sector continues to face real financial challenges. And as the partnership extends, I am confident it will enable us to replicate the kinds of innovative, user-led services that we have seen developed in health and care, across other areas including skills and education, business growth, good homes, and our plans for being net zero by 2030.

As I get to know the city and partners better I know that Collaborative Newcastle will be at the heart of many of the great things we do together. I’m proud to be joining such an amazing, collaborative team.

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