Collaborating Places

Leaders and communities coming together

Executive Summary

The relationships built when teams came together to support their communities have been a silver lining of the pandemic. Across the country, people have taken bold steps to work together in new ways. For example, in Newcastle, public sector leaders accelerated long-planned partnerships. In Leicestershire, teams set up a mental health care hub in 11 days. And in East London, two schools show how to embed partnerships into the fabric of an organisation for positive outcomes. Each model offers lessons that can be applied in non-crisis times.


Collaborative Newcastle

Chief Executives of Newcastle's public sector organisations standing in front of a bridge in Newcastle.

In December 2020, Newcastle announced an innovative and ambitious new partnership, seeking to improve the health, wealth and wellbeing of everyone in the city. The breadth of partnership is the first of its kind in the country and involves the NHS, the City Council, universities, and voluntary and community groups.

Choosing your moment

Pat Ritchie, CEO of Newcastle City Council says, “choosing your moment to accelerate long developed plans is very important. This partnership was being developed well before the pandemic, but we all recognised this as a moment to publicly commit.”


Joint ventures

Through a series of high profile joint projects, joint leadership training, shared values, and bringing budgets and teams together, the city is trying unique and radical things. Regular communication and close relationships between the CEOs has proven to be important to smooth running.


With an upcoming focus on “covid response, collaborative service transformation, championing communities, and coordination for personalisation”, Collaborative Newcastle is a new way of delivering public services.

Read more on the Collaborative Newcastle website.

An "metro station" infographic, showing life expectancy across different parts of Newcastle. Click to read more.

Read more about where the Collaborative Newcastle journey began, when a stark picture of different life expectancies jolted the city into taking new action.


Mental health partnership in Leicestershire

A picture of Leicester at sunset.

At the start of the pandemic, a team in Leicestershire set up an urgent mental health care hub in 11 days. They worked closely with local authorities and housing trusts to help more patients stay in the community.

More than a COVID response

Angela Hillery, CEO of the NHS Trust described the impact of the new mental health care hub: “It’s not just a response to COVID, it’s actually about improving opportunities to signpost and get patients to the right place.”

“This hub represents a huge opportunity not only for winter but also for future mental health models.”


Partnerships to get the right care

Saskya Falope, the mental health urgent care hub team manager talked about the role of partnerships in setting the new model up. “[The hub] has allowed us to think differently about how we use our resources and has allowed partnerships to really come together, using everybody’s expertise rather than working in silos. Working with colleagues in social care, housing and acute trusts, gets patients the right care that they need rather than the fallback always being A&E in an acute hospital.”


Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust tell their full story on the NHS Providers website.

Picture 1: Saskya Falope, mental health urgent care hub team manager.

Picture 2: the hub in action.

Picture 3: Angela Hillery, CEO of Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust


Partnership models in East London schools

A picture of Gillian Kemp

A picture of the St. Paul's Way Trust building

A picture of Royal Greenwich Trust building

University Schools Trust (UST) is a Multi-Academy Trust in East London that has six universities, a local authority, a health trust, and a housing association on its board. Collaboration and a shared vision is built into its governance and structures as a real commitment to partnership working.

Picture 1: Gillian Kemp, CEO of UST

Picture 2: St. Paul’s Way Trust, one of UST’s schools

Picture 3: Royal Greenwich Trust, the second UST school

Structural and personal partnership relationships

Gillian Kemp, Trust Leader of UST, writes for the Public Leaders Report about why and how they have created deep partnerships in their community. The model has stood strong during COVID.


Communication is the key

“Open and personal communication with our partners at any time, not least between Board meetings, is the key to many of the opportunities afforded to our pupils, families, staff and communities.”


Joint priorities for common outcomes

“Together with our partners, the Trust has three key priorities that unite us. Firstly, academic excellence and emotional well-being for all its pupils. Secondly to ensure all our pupils realise their potential. Our third aim is to reduce the attainment gap significantly.”

Ed Vainker of Reach Academy Feltham writes for the Public Leaders Report about their “cradle to career” approach. He explains how they are putting structure around collaborative relationships to make them last beyond the crisis – another model other organisations could learn from.

“As CEO, the key to this work has been balancing action and direct delivery with a focus on listening and building partnerships.”


Read more of the Public Leaders Report 2021