New Chair Appointed to Norfolk & Waveney VCSE Health and Social Care Assembly

Emma Ratzer has been appointed as the first Chair of the Norfolk and Waveney VCSE (Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector) Health and Social Care Assembly. This is an incredibly important appointment as the local integrated care system (ICS) moves towards its launch in 2022 bringing health and social care services, together with the voluntary sector, to join up and improve the delivery of services to the people of Norfolk and Waveney. Now, more than ever in light of the impact of COVID on our most vulnerable communities and our respective organisations, we need strong and meaningful partnerships.

During the next phase of the Assembly’s development and throughout 2021/22, we will continue to work together to develop a deliverable VCSE Assembly as a part of the emerging ICS. Our focus will be a work plan that meet the needs and priorities of the VCSE sector. The Assembly Chair will be a critical component in driving the effectiveness of the Assembly and its role in supporting the development of more meaningful and equitable relationship with health and social care partners.

Emma is a highly experienced local strategic leader, and in addition to being appointed as the Chair of the VCSE Assembly is also the Chief Executive with local charity, Access Community Trust.  Since becoming Chief Executive, Emma has grown the charity enormously, working successfully in some of the areas most deprived locations. Emma was made an MBE in 2019 for services to the community. Emma will be working with colleagues across Norfolk and Waveney to help steer the newly formed VCSE Assembly into its next phase of development.

Emma will provide leadership and direction to the VCSE Assembly to enable the Assembly to effectively function as a mechanism to hear the views of the VCSE and collaborate and connect with a wide and diverse range of partners and stakeholders, on key issues and the wider ICS ambitions. She will also represent the VCSE Assembly at the ICS Partnership Board, ensuring equitable engagement and breadth of representation.

Patricia Hewitt is Independent Chair of Norfolk and Waveney’s Integrated Care System: “I am delighted to announce this successful appointment, following a very stringent and inclusive interview process. The voluntary, community and social enterprise sector is a vital partner within the emerging Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care System, which makes the role of the Chair of the VCSE Assembly vital in ensuring the needs, skills and scope of the sector is effectively represented in local decision-making.

“I have seen first-hand how the VCSE sector can have a significant impact on connecting individuals and communities and supporting better health and wellbeing, but also championing the needs of under-represented populations and people that face day-to-day inequalities. As an Integrated Care System, we must ensure these voices are heard and are an active part of our decision-making. Emma’s vast experience and knowledge of the local system will be an invaluable addition to local services.”

Emma Ratzer said “I’m delighted and proud to be welcomed as Chair of the VCSE Assembly and I look forward to developing the unique and ambitious partnership of a Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care System. The VCSE sector continues to deliver incredible benefit to our communities and our statutory partners, particularly around financial models and social value impact. Support for all statutory and non-statutory sectors during the pandemic has been tremendous, but I fear the full effects of the last year are yet to present themselves. We have a real opportunity and responsibility to drive and commit to a collective ambition and shared vision that will actively steer future change in service provision, working collaboratively to positively address the growing inequalities within our communities with compassion, care and attention to detail. I am looking forward to being a part of a sustaining, empowering and influencing Assembly designed to foster strategic imagination that moves us from conversation to action”.

Led by a cross party working group the recruitment design was carefully considered and managed to ensure we had a successful appointment. The inclusion of the VCSE sector in both the design and at each stage of assessment and decision making allowed for testing, challenge and exploration of the key qualities of the candidates, via shortlisting, an inclusive and transparent stakeholder panel with VCSE and wider ICS representation, and a final appointments panel. The approach adopted also demonstrated our shared commitment to ICS partnership working by including partner representation at each stage of the selection process, but with the final decision making process weighted in favour of the VCSE sector. Members of the stakeholder panel included 18 VCSE partners and 6 colleagues from statutory organisations, who met all shortlisted candidates and received a presentation from each followed by an open discussion. Independent feedback via an online tool was received from each panel members, and was shared with the appointment panel who also met all shortlisted candidates. Four VCSE representatives from the stakeholder panel also joined the final appointment panel, and represented the diversity and breadth of the sector.

Dan Skipper, Chief Executive Officer, Age UK Norwich, a member of both the stakeholder panel and final appointment panel, made the following comments after the recruitment process : “The appointment of Emma as the VCSE Assembly Chair is a big step in strengthening the partnership between health and social care and the VCSE sector. Emma’s role to develop the VCSE Assembly as part of the ICS will embolden the role of the VCSE and the fantastic diversity of support we provide to people and communities, and how this can complement and enhance statutory services.  This collaboration was clearly demonstrated throughout the recruitment for the Chair, which included a wide variety of VCSE organisations, as well as health leaders and commissioners, to select the best candidate for this important role. “

Dan Mobbs, Elected Chair of the VCSE Forum for Children and Young People, who was also a member of both the stakeholder panel and final appointment panel said “I’m delighted that Emma has been appointed as chair of the assembly. As a passionate and principled charity leader I believe she will provide the facilitation we need to ensure we work together with our public sector colleagues to support our communities to the best of our shared strengths”.

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