Agenda item

Presentation on Wellbeing Exeter

Presentation by the Active and Healthy People Programme Lead and the Programme Manager Communities.



The Chair welcomed James Bogue, the Active and Healthy People Programme Lead to the meeting. In a detailed and informative presentation he set out the background to the creation of Wellbeing Exeter Partnership, the initial and expanded funding and involvement of a wide range of partners including national bodies and use of national best practice, the governance structure of the Partnership, the contributions made by key participants, notably 13 delivery partners, 17 GP practices, 26 Community Connectors, 12 Community Builders and 4 Community Physical Activity Organisers, the response to the Covid-19 Pandemic and the current position.


The full presentation has been circulated separately to all Members.


The following details were provided on the current position and to inform Members of a forthcoming review of Wellbeing Exeter:-


·         the Exeter Community Wellbeing hotline and partnership remain open as part of business as usual;

·         shielding formally ended on 31 March 2021 with planning underway to step up in the event of local outbreaks. Currently systems and data sharing agreements run until March 2022;

·         Westbank Community Health and Care had withdrawn from the Partnership and their involvement ended on 31 March 2021;

·         due to uncertainty regarding funding from the Devon County Council/Clinical Commissioning Group after March 2021, Age UK Exeter and Estuary League of Friends would no longer be part of the Partnership;

·         the programme was being reviewed and redesigned with funders, stakeholders and delivery partners to ensure that within available resource, it could continue supporting individuals and communities to improve their health and wellbeing in the post-Covid landscape, focusing on those who have been most impacted by the pandemic;

·         an interim March – June operational plan was in place to manage the exit of the three providers and ensure the continued delivery of the programme. The revised model would be rolled out from July onwards; and

·         for the future a strong collaborative partnership was proposed involving nine delivery partners with a range of specialisms and reach across the city continues, including working with young people and families, community building and supporting individuals and communities to be more physically active. 


The following questions on Wellbeing Exeter had been received prior to the meeting and these, together with the responses of the Portfolio Holder for Communities and Culture – Councillor Ghusain, are set out below.


Questions from Non Committee Members


Councillor D. Moore Please can the Portfolio Holder explain why the funding for Community Connectors was cut at short notice, and what relationship with GP’s as part of the Exeter Wellbeing model is expected in future?


Councillor D. Moore thanked the Active and Healthy People Programme Lead for his presentation.




Delivery Contracts were terminated with three months’ notice for Community Connectors as a result of uncertainty around future long term funding, the withdrawal of a key delivery partner (Westbank) and the impact of COVID.  These factors led towards a decision made by the Wellbeing Exeter Steering Group to review the programme and develop a three year strategy with funding secured from key partners.


The relationship with GP’s and the overarching four Primary Care Networks will continue with GP’s being able to refer any patient requiring support to Community Connectors. There is a current contract with Primary Care Networks to deliver children, young people and family focussed referrals through the national Link Worker programme until 2022/23.


Supplementary question and answer.


Will the voluntary sector as well as participants and beneficiaries be involved in the review to help determine the future development of the programme?


The review is to be managed by the Devon Community Foundation on behalf of the partners, the two main strands of consultation being via Exeter Connect involving the voluntary and community sectors and with the Community Builders to obtain their valuable insights achieved during the months of the Pandemic.


It is the intention to fully engage with both community organisations and individuals through a broad range of conversations in the coming weeks to obtain views and insights to feed into the review. It is possible that, from the evidence gained, resources may be positioned in different areas.


Questions from Committee Members


Councillor M. Mitchell – What is the governance structure of Wellbeing Exeter? As a partnership body what are its lines of accountability? As a semi -public body are the meetings of any Executive body open to the public and are the minutes of the organisation publicly available?




Wellbeing Exeter is governed by a steering group consisting of senior officers from strategic funding partners, chaired by the Director at the City Council Terms of Reference can be circulated).  The accountability lies with senior officers from the key funding partners represented on the steering group.  The steering group is not currently open to the public and meeting minutes are shared to steering group members.  A governance review is being conducted as part of the wider programme review to be delivered from 1 July 2021.


Supplementary question and answer.


Given the £1.3 million investment in the programme, can assurances be given that the programme going forward will be open and transparent?




A vital element of the review process will be determining the methodology for Member engagement in the Wellbeing Exeter programme and both the City Council and County Council Portfolio Holders will be fully involved in bringing forward the revised governance structure. One suggestion is for two Member briefing sessions annually.


Which body or bodies are responsible for the financial auditing of Wellbeing Exeter?




Exeter City Council is the accountable body for funding which is pooled from strategic partners. Devon Community Foundation and programme managers of Wellbeing Exeter, manage and report on the programme budget; a financial report including all income and expenditure is submitted quarterly and reviewed by the steering group. The financial auditing is undertaken by the Exeter City Council auditing team.



How is Wellbeing Exeter audited in regard to it operational targets and are those set by its funders?




Wellbeing Exeter is performance managed by steering group members (strategic funding partners) who receive a monthly dashboard of activities and quarterly reports.


An annual report is prepared by Devon Community Foundation and submitted to steering group members.


Supplementary questions and answers.


What is the review timescale, are the reports publicly available and can an annual report be made to the City Council?




It is the intention to complete the review by July.


The reporting mechanisms include monthly dashboard data, quarterly reports to the steering group and an annual report produced by the Devon Community Foundation. Both elements of the dashboard data and an annual report have been included on the Wellbeing Exeter website where a wealth of information is available.


Transparency will be important and an annual report will be made to the City Council.


Is auditing by the City Council appropriate?




The City Council is only one of a number of partners, all of whom, through the Steering Group, maintain robust oversight of the programme. The accounts of the Devon Community Foundation, who manage the programme, are audited and the Foundation provides quarterly reports seen by the City Council as one of the partners. The City Council itself audits the programme’s accounts and the Council’s audit function is a long standing and respected function.



During the pandemic a vast number of individuals and groups came forward to assist those in need. Many were grant assisted. To what extent has this network being formalised or integrated into the work of Wellbeing Exeter?




We were very fortunate that so many local community response groups stepped forward to support people within their communities over the past 12 months. Regular contact was kept with the groups through our Exeter Community Wellbeing partner Exeter Connect. Many of these groups have now folded as the requests for support have lessened. We have sent a recent communication to the groups to ask if they intend to continue in any form.  Exeter Connect will continue to keep contact with residents and groups who wish to continue to play an active role and offer development and capacity building as requested.


Supplementary question and answer.


What was the extent of the geographical coverage of the voluntary support?


There was excellent city-wide coverage, particularly by a wide range of bodies already operating across Exeter such as the Exeter Foodbank and the Exeter City Community Trust etc.


Every area benefitted from grass roots support to differing degrees. This support ranged from existing local community support groups and community associations with more informal groups springing up such as neighbourhood, street and WhatsApp groups. It was clear that all groups providing greatly valued help and it was the intention to examine the potential of harnessing this voluntary support and incorporating it into future programmes.


The Portfolio Holder for Supporting People commended the work of the Community Builders and Community Connectors and other informal groups such as a group in Pennsylvania distributing medicines city wide. As a volunteer at the Beacon Centre she had also participated in the pairing up process of individuals with local volunteers and support groups.


The Chair thanked the Active and Healthy People Programme Lead for his presentation and the contribution of Members to the debate. He also asked that his thanks and those of the Committee be conveyed to the Community Connectors and Community Builders and all other community groups who had done so much during the Pandemic.


The Chair invited suggestions from Members on how the outcomes of the review should be progressed, welcoming a specific role for this Scrutiny Committee.


The Programme Lead stated that twice yearly briefings to all Members would be particularly valuable which was supported and the Chair invited Members to feed into the review process, in advance if possible, with comments and ideas to be sent on line to both himself and the Programme Lead.


Members welcomed this approach and noted that the results of the review would be reported to this Scrutiny Committee.





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