The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has been awarded funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the Connect Fund to work in collaboration with partners across the West Midlands on the development of a new social investment finance programme. RSPH is now looking for stakeholders in the voluntary and community sector to actively participate in the next phase of the Programme’s two-year development.

RSPH will be exploring new ways to support voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSEs), tackling health and social inequalities to scale and extend their reach within their localities. This project will test the idea of a new focussed support programme to be delivered alongside investment from the Key Fund.  

  • VCSEs have begun to be recognised for the services they offer in early intervention and preventative care.
  • Research undertaken by RSPH found that VCSEs’ on-the-ground presence helps to reduce the stigma often associated with prevention services, particularly in relation to mental wellbeing.
  • VCSEs are also recognised for their ability to  integrate care, providing holistic solutions, as well as the ability to reach marginalised and excluded groups.

The Catalyst Programme will be a health and wellbeing focused, place-based programme. It will involve and support those organisations already tackling health inequalities but whose potential for growth is limited due to a lack of finance, access to investment and support, or awareness of growth finance options.

The place-based giving approach will work particularly well in the West Midlands region as:

  • There is a diverse and rich ecosystem of funders, infrastructure organisations, and third sector providers supporting the delivery of health services, but relatively little strategic co-ordination;
  • The West Midlands Mayor has made tackling health inequalities a major focus and has a platform to drive greater civic engagement between businesses and citizens;
  • The West Midlands has a strong civic identity and global profile, with the capacity to connect with an international network of cities and learn from other similar initiatives.

Those interested are invited by RSPH to attend a workshop on the programme to be held in Birmingham on 6 February 2020. Registration for the event can be found here.

Matt Smith CEO Key Fund said:

We are incredibly excited about this new partnership with RSPH and the potential of the programme to enable health focussed social enterprises to increase their trading activity, whilst also improving the sustainability of their wider social impacts”

Vij Randeniya, RSPH Trustee, said:

“This new partnership with Esmée Fairbairn and Connect Fund is a huge opportunity to try something new. It is a massive transformational investment for RSPH which will be working across the West Midlands Footprint to scale up VCSE organisations that are delivering services and programmes which address social and health inequalities.

I am pleased to be championing this work and playing a lead role in designing this new social finance model. It will be an interesting 2-year development project and along with our other partners we look forward to driving social change across the West Midlands.”

Kiran Kenth, Director of National and Regional Programmes at RSPH, said:

“In order to make lasting change we have to reconsider the way we think about social and health inequalities. We have to understand the causes of failures and build new ways of working that are grounded in this understanding in order to be able to deliver better outcomes. New models of funding need to be designed in a way in which they can be financed sustainably and at scale.

Social investment is a key way to achieve this and I am delighted that RSPH has been given the opportunity to work with Esmée Fairbairn and the Connect Fund to establish the Catalyst Programme supporting the VCSE sector. This programme comes to RSPH at a time of continued austerity but we are committed to bringing about real improvements and pioneer new finance solutions to increase the funds available for social investment across the VCSE sector”