Chairman’s Report 2021: Annual General Meeting of Duchy Health Charity
Dr Barbara Vann, DL., Hon. DSc

‘It has been a year like no other’ is the way I introduced my report last year but now, in terms of Covid, we have had another similar year which has enforced changes to the way we have been able to ‘do business’. On behalf of the President, Michael Galsworthy, who is unable to be here tonight, and myself I would like to place on record our thanks and admiration of the work undertaken and achieved by the Trustees over the last year.

At a webinar reported at last year’s AGM, DHC and many other organisations were reported as being ‘nowhere – between somewhere and somewhere’. Following an active period of reflection, I believe we at least know where ‘somewhere’ is likely to be and we are heading in that direction.

Of major importance this year has been the Board’s ability to ‘punch above its weight’ by demonstrating their sense of purpose, understanding of the issues and facilitating serious intentions by partners across the health community to move forwards together.

 

Trustees

Recently we have been fortunate to recruit Ms Katy Hutchinson to the Board. Not only does she bring down the average age of Board members, but with her experience in Social Care, she represents the younger members of the Cornish community and actively engages them in decision-making on health issues within their communities. She will be supported by her close colleague, Laura Curtis with whom we have worked this year.

The Board was sad to lose the services of Mrs Tracie North who was vice Chair and had worked hard for the Charity, particularly on the health-related issues of children and young people. Her sense of purpose and good humour will be missed by the Board.

Unfortunately, for personal reasons we have also lost the services of Antoinette McLean She has offered to continue to advise us, particularly in relation to Grants and we thank her for that and her service to the Charity.

The Board have asked a number of people to be ‘experts by experience’ for us. The intention is that they will join our Board discussions where relevant; the purpose is to enable the Board to be as fully informed and as up to date as possible.

Context
ICF – expectation of new White Paper April 2022
Aims to be mandated collaborative way of working
Still no understanding of where the budget will go and who will manage funds
It will take 3 years for the process to settle in

 

Strategy

Following a recent review of Governance by the Board, we are instituting a small Task and Finish group of Trustees under the Chairmanship of Scott Bennett. Their brief is likely to be to review our direction of travel; to devise a Framework of Activity over the next three to five years and to ensure that this is communicated to applicants for grants and the wider community.

There is a recognition that Duchy Health Charity will continue to work across Cornwall, that we will spend our funds wisely and that we are likely to work in partnership with individuals or organisations rather than in isolation. In that respect the work of the Integrated Care System will form an important focus.

 

Update on activities

Grants: awards have been for a wide variety of projects, for example, research (Exeter University), support for children and young people (Nine Maidens Project and Liskeard), and to organisations like those that have been showcased today.

Despite and because of Covid, Duchy Health Charity has continued to provide additional support to charities in the county. As ever, we have emphasised the need for projects to demonstrate sustainability, share back office functions where possible and to encourage matched funding.

As charities across the Duchy reinstate their activity and begin to redress the balance of harm to organisations and individuals inflicted by the pandemic, DHC has been proactive in trying to reimagine how things could be done differently; it’s a work in progress.

The Grants committee is at the heart of Duchy Health Charity’s activity. Four times a year Trustees assess the applications that have been received and award between £150k and £200k. Details of the awards are elsewhere in the AGM papers; we have heard from two such beneficiaries this evening.

 

Events

Governance
As a responsible Charity, the Board members have reviewed some aspects of their role by cross-referencing their ways of working against the Charity Commissioners publication ‘Charity Governance Code for smaller charities’. The Good Governance Institute led the Board through significant points upon which to reflect. This work will continue through the next year.

2020/2021 has been a peculiar year affecting every aspect of the Charity’s work. By using technology, the Board has continued to take a lead in bringing people together; seeking ways of initiating thinking and activity, particularly in relation to prevention and enabling individuals and communities to help themselves to improve their health and thus life chances.

Social Prescribing
The impact of Covid meant that the film for GPs re Social Prescribing, seen by a national lead as ground-breaking, which was reported at our last AGM, had to be used in a different way from that intended. The Board needed to think carefully about any safeguarding issues that might have arisen from wider distribution of the film.

To support the development of the awareness of social prescribing, a team of enthusiastic and committed Trustees planned and delivered two webinars and a face to face conference, involving national as well as local speakers. In terms of the ‘reach’ achieved across Cornwall and the potential outcomes for future work, these were very successful events.

Next steps are being considered presently but are likely to focus upon: intergenerational work inspired by the work of Sir Muir Gray; social prescribing for children and young people and the targeted use of data across the system. The Trustees are establishing groups to address these themes.

Children and young people
Given the Charity’s aim to address issues of the prevention of ill health, the work with children and young people continues. An example of the interdependence of physical and mental health in wellbeing, Trustees and the Chaos group, who are working with us, are encouraging children and young people to take an active part in decision-making in their communities. At Liskeard there is an, as yet, early stage intent to help the young people to work with local Councillors and others to set up a skate park on land that may be available. This builds upon work with Helston schools and a conference run in 2019 which focussed upon capacity building in communities with particular reference to health and wellbeing issues. Social Prescribing and prevention of ill-health in action.

At Nine Maidens School, the Chaos group, (at the behest of DHC) have worked with some very vulnerable young people who wanted to make a bid for a grant from DHC. This led to Nine Maidens mounting an exhibition of the students’ work and, for the Trustees, a much greater understanding of the complex issues exemplified in the exhibition. For some students, this work is likely to have been life changing – it certainly was for the Trustees.

Data
An extraordinary Board meeting was held with invited guests from Cornwall Council, Devon and Cornwall police and other community representatives. The speakers were the then Chief Constable and Chief Superintendent of Avon and Somerset police who demonstrated to the Board, and guests, how data can be used to understand the needs of communities, vulnerable families and individuals, especially in relation to their health and wellbeing. This work is to continue and at the recent conference focussed upon Social Prescribing the discussion moved forwards. It is likely that there will be a ‘next steps’ meeting very shortly.

In conclusion, the Trustees deserve our thanks and admiration for their work. In an exceptionally difficult year, they have shown dedication and continued enthusiasm to make an impact for the people of Cornwall.

22 November 2021