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I started in post in March 2018. The question I was asked most ‘what exactly does Transformation mean?’….

So my challenge is to put this into as few words as possible whilst making sense!

Transformation has been going on within the NHS since its conception on the 5thof July 1948. We are celebrating its 70 year existence right now. 

The Voluntary Sector has existed way before the NHS in one form or another. From the 1830s, voluntary, mainly faith-based, institutions providing schooling for the working classes were funded, and increasingly regulated, by a state which was concerned about the literacy and discipline of the population.

Education provided a model for future developments in state welfare: activities pioneered by the voluntary sector were adopted by the state. For example, child abuse was not new in the later nineteenth century, but it took the voluntary National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC, founded in 1884 as the London Society) to make a fuss about it, seek ways to rescue and protect children, to press government to make it illegal and punish perpetrators and, eventually, to set up local authority committees to support and care for children. [George Behlmer, Child Abuse and Moral Reform in England, 1870-1908,  Stanford University Press, 1982). NSPCC was just one of many organisations which established a model for the future, by identifying a social problem, seeking viable ways to help the victims, then campaigning for government to adopt these methods, because only the state had the resources to deal on a national scale with challenges beyond the scope of unavoidably limited and localized voluntary action. Far from the state seeking to crowd out voluntary action, it was, often reluctantly, persuaded into action by voluntary organizations. We the voluntary sector continue, now in 2018 to campaign for needs of both our local communities and at a national level. 

The first anniversary of the tragic Grenfell Tower fire has just passed. The public sector, local council and the NHS were simply unable to respond effectively and quickly enough to those communities who were devastated by the fire. We can reason that there are so many changes going on within the public sector that there is less local history, and relationships which are strong, and able to deliver collaboratively in a crisis. We can argue that the public sector is simply not in touch with deprived communities. I don’t have the answer. It is difficult for me to fathom how the richest Borough in the UK or is it Europe responded so in adequately. 

What is a fact and I do know is how, we as the voluntary sector came forward immediately and reached out to the victims devastated by fire. Food, clothing, shelter were given in abundance. All voluntary sector communities came together in force to support the Grenfell victims. 

We know in our gut those of us who have worked in the voluntary sector what we do well. We are close to the front line the grass roots of our communities. So you might ask, why do we need to change? Why do we need to transform?

As the great man said ‘the times they are a changing’. It’s not our sector that is being asked to transform it is all of the providers of services. General Practice, hospitals and mental health trusts, local authorities are all being asked to transform. We are seeing budget constraints of the type we have never seen before. You can say that the writing has been on the wall for a long time but each concessive government didn’t do anything about it. We are now in at breaking point.

We now have to work differently. I don’t think that it is necessary to change our ethos and values, nor change what we believe in. What we will need to do is to take very seriously the changes which are happening around us and no longer hide from what is going on around us.

Change can be difficult but at the same time it can open up opportunities. The voluntary sector in Kensington and Chelsea has a strong history which is rooted. One thing I am sure of is that we together as a collaborative can achieve much more for our local communities.