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The NHS reforms currently working their way through Parliament put place-based, whole system collaboration right at the heart of how we seek to improve health outcomes and tackle inequalities in our communities.

It’s exciting to see collaboration being built so explicitly into government policy and we’re delighted to be working at the coalface of this reform agenda through the NHS England Place Development Programme. The consortium involves a range of organisations committed to place-based change and population health (including
PA Consulting, NAPC and SCIE) and is working within nearly all ICS across the country, ahead of the planned July milestone for implementation. 

There’s no denying that the case for collaboration is clear. But the translation of intention to meaningful change is a huge challenge. It requires local commitment to collaborative action, and leaders to change how they and their organisations work together. Collaboration can reveal new opportunities, but it is rarely easy. 

This is an unusual moment of consensus among local and national leaders about the direction of travel for health and care; firmly towards people and place. We are pleased to play a part in this challenge, and will share our learning as we go.

From ‘Me’ to ‘We’ — Lessons on leading as a systems activist

We recently completed our second collaborative leadership programme with the national Active Partnerships network. The place-based teams that make up the network worked to understand the complex systems they operate in and develop their ‘system activism’ skills to get physical activity on the agenda of a wide range of partners. 

Elle Dodd has written a new blog sharing seven shifts people make as they start to lead in systems, which are relevant across a wide range of collaborative endeavours (including the NHS reforms!)

Loneliness as a public health and social justice issue: a systems approach in East Sussex

As mental health awareness week concludes, it's a stark reminder that one in four of us has felt lonely some or all of the time. That leaps up to well over a third for people with disabilities and those from LGBTQ+ or BAME communities, according to the Mental Health Foundation. Loneliness is a matter of public health and social justice.

We have just finished work on East Sussex County Council’s Community Wellbeing: Connected People & Places project. This place-based partnership of local authorities, the NHS and the VCSE sector wanted to capitalise on their collaborative response to the COVID-19 pandemic to develop a systems approach to one of the most cross-cutting social issues we face: loneliness. 

Over the course of the last year we have engaged and mobilised people and organisations across the system to explore and answer key questions, generating insights into the nature and impact of loneliness across East Sussex. We co-created a vision for a more connected county and identified opportunities for further collaboration, system stewardship and embedded learning to help deliver the vision, including a role for a county-wide network of community hubs.  You can find out more here on how we approach our work as consultants.

Tom Hook, Assistant Director Adult Social Care & Health, East Sussex County Council said:

"Collaborate has managed to pull together useful insight from a complex set of engagement and research activities in a way that has illuminated two quite nebulous topics. We now have a set of recommendations that make our way forward very clear and actionable. 

The team were adept at building relationships and drawing in people from across the system, lending credibility to the insights and generating energy for the future. 

The process has been a really valuable learning experience in itself, holding a mirror up to the system we're part of and helping us understand the relationships within it more fully and in unexpected ways."

North Yorkshire's journey to a new governance set-up

In July 2021 it was announced that the current county, district and borough councils of North Yorkshire would be replaced by a new single council for North Yorkshire in April 2023.

We’re pleased to be working with North Yorkshire County Council and local districts to support the development of working proposals for this transition, drawing on our work with the Upstream Collaborative and the New Operating Model for local government. We’re working in partnership with PA Consulting on this project, co-producing proposals with a range of local stakeholders as the plans for a collaborative new organisation take shape. 

Human Learning Systems national event

We are continuing to support and nurture Human Learning Systems practitioners and those just beginning to explore and introduce HLS practices into their work, especially through convening peer learning communities that enable shared learning and support. We have just launched a new HLS learning community for social pedagogy practitioners, convened by Thempra and supported by Collaborate.

We are also starting to plan HLS Week 2022, a week of HLS learning events in September 2022. Watch this space for more information and contact us at if you’d like a local HLS event in your area during HLS week. 

New recruits

We’re delighted to welcome several new recruits to our growing team this spring. Amy Hurst joins us as a Consultant; Sophia Luk is our new researcher; Adam Cantwell Corn has joined us to lead on strategic communications and support projects; and Emma Hindle is our new team Admin Manager. We will soon welcome Leigh Brown as another new researcher, and we’re very pleased to confirm Jenni Lloyd as a permanent Head of Practice.

If you would like further information about any of the projects outlined above, or to talk to us about how we could support you to collaborate more effectively, please get in touch!

Anna and the Collaborate team



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