Building Health Partnerships: Self-care is a programme of support for Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) footprint to engage with the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector and citizens on wellbeing and self-care priorities. It is funded by NHS England and the Big Lottery Fund.

Over the last five years Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) and the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) have developed a successful intervention that brings together cross-sector agencies working in health and care to address key local health challenges.

Why is it needed now? 

There’s an awareness that the successful implementation of a footprint’s STP is dependent on the quality of engagement with citizens and VCSE organisations, particularly in delivering on self-care and prevention priorities.  Yet the speed at which the partnerships have been established, grappling with the creation of multiple new relationships while formulating plans, has often left little time for engagement with the VCSE sector and citizens.  

Building Health Partnerships provides the facilitation, space and opportunity to develop positive and productive relationships with citizens and the VCSE sector to collectively agree, design and implement activities which deliver on self-care priorities for the STP footprint.  

We know this approach works

Previous BHP programmes have seen some excellent outcomes. For example in Bolton, following a number of young suicides, there was concern that the existing services and systems were not as effective as they could be. BHP supported the re-design of the care pathway for young people accessing mental health services. The process involved young service users in the design for the first time, and took a whole-system approach to mental health through the engagement and involvement of key stakeholders (schools and local and national VCSE) throughout the process. This way of working has had a wider system impact on the way that the area has approached the development of their STP.

To learn more about the work in Bolton watch the video below

You can read about the outcomes from other areas here.  

Who’s involved in BHP: Self-care?

Eight STP footprints have been selected to receive support from the programme. They were selected to provide a representative sample of the progress of STPs nationally and because they vary in focus:

  • Humber, Coast and Vale
  • Greater Manchester
  • North East – Northumberland Tyne and Wear and North Durham + Durham, Darlington Tees, Hambleton, Richmond and Whitby
  • Mid and South Essex
  • Herefordshire and Worcestershire
  • North Central London
  • Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire
  • Hampshire and the Isle of Wight

To find out more about the developing work of each STP footprint see here.

Learning we hope to share over the duration of the programme:

The programme team will share the learning as the work progresses in the eight STP areas over the autumn and into spring next year. These will focus on tips and practical takeaways for others to make use of. The central focus of this learning will be on:   

  • How STPs can engage with VCSE and citizens more effectively with examples of what good relationships look like in this context.
  • Delivering a series of practical examples of how to improve self-care in particular care-pathways such as mental health, respiratory pathways or for carers as well as ways to scale up approaches across STP geographies.

For further information about the programme and any recent updates please see here

To note:

BHP: self-care is funded by NHS England and the Big Lottery Fund.  

Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. It puts people in the lead to improve their lives and communities, often through small, local projects. It is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. For more information visit

Social Enterprise UK is the biggest network for social enterprises in the UK.  We are a strategic partner to a number of government departments and have led public policy on social enterprise for 15 years.

IVAR (Institute for Voluntary Action Research) is an independent research charity that works closely with organisations that are striving for social change. We bring to the project over 17 years worth of research experience and a network of cross-sector, multi-disciplinary relationships. Keep up to date with our latest findings by signing up to our newsletter.