A new way of thinking…

We would like to introduce you to a new and distinctive approach to building healthier and happier communities.

Our approach is particularly relevant in the context of health and social care integration and wider public service reform
as it:

  • Provides a timely opportunity to place third sector assets at the centre of the health and social care table
  • Presents a tested way of investing in the capacity of the third sector to help manage demand on statutory services
  • Places people and communities more firmly in control of their health and happiness

Our programme, which supports the 2020 Vision for Health and Social Care, is underpinned by a commitment to work in ways which are asset-based, co-productive, person-centred and preventative.

What we do is tailored to meet local ambitions and circumstances – and by sharing what works we hope to encourage integration authorities to make more of their community assets and the unique ability of the third sector organisations to build healthier and happier communities.

“The Community Health Partnership has welcomed the opportunity to work with SCVO in the implementation of this pathfinder. We hope that the outputs from the pathfinder will provide us with further opportunities to identify sustainable activities that enable individuals and communities to look after their own health and wellbeing.”

Karen Murray, Director, East Dunbartonshire CHP and Oral Health Directorate

Get involved

As the national umbrella body for the third sector in Scotland, SCVO is well-placed to assist all parties with an interest in health and social care integration to understand the current and potential contribution of charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations of all shapes and sizes. By helping people to help themselves and others, the third sector can help deliver key integration outcomes – improving the quality of life (outcome 4) and reducing health inequalities (outcome 5) are prime examples – and building healthier and happier communities across Scotland.

  • Working with local and national partners, SCVO is well-placed to help integration authorities to embrace the third sector offer
  • Drawing on the learning from our pathfinder activity in East Dunbartonshire, we are now in a position to extend our programme to other areas

Building Healthier, Happier Communities is founded on a commitment to collaboration. Our role in working with local partners is to add value to, amplify or augment their existing activity. Rather than duplicate what’s already happening, we dovetail our offer with the knowledge and networks of our partners in the integration authorities and the Third Sector Interfaces.

“The Board and Staff of EDVA have very much welcomed this opportunity to work with SCVO and our local partners from the Community Health Partnership and East Dunbartonshire Council. We are particularly pleased about the capacity building approach which has been adopted and our members have benefitted from support and resources to engage in this meaningful and timely project. Building Healthier and Happier Communities has helped us to adapt to new ways of working, enabling us to bring out the best in local groups and show their worth as providers of local services.”

Gilbert Grieve, Chief Executive Officer, East Dunbartonshire Voluntary Action

If you would like to get involved contact Sarah Currie. Full contact details are at the bottom of this page.


The third sector already plays an important role in health and social care – but there is scope for us to make even more of a difference.

That is why SCVO and a range of partners – the ALLIANCE, Carers Scotland, CHEX, CCPS, Evaluation Support Scotland, Inclusion Scotland, SENScot, SFHA, Voluntary Action Scotland and Voluntary Health Scotland, along with the Joint Improvement Team and the Scottish Government – are working together as the Third Sector Health and Social Care Advisory Group to co-ordinate effort and maximise impact in the context of integration.

Building Healthier and Happier Communities is a national programme, underpinned by a strategic partnership between SCVO at national level and Third Sector Interfaces at the local level. The Third Sector Health and Social Care Advisory Group oversees and steers the implementation of this programme.


The Integrated Care Fund presents a timely opportunity for strategic investment in third sector capacity. With the right connections, resources and support, charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations of all shapes and sizes can extend their pioneering work on prevention and help to manage demand on public services.

The Building Healthier and Happier Communities programme is particularly relevant in the context of health and social care integration and wider public service reform.

“We don’t change culture by saying we want to change culture. We change culture by helping people to do things differently.”

Paul Gray, Director-General Health and Social Care and Chief Executive NHSScotland


Building Healthier and Happier Communities is a national programme, delivered locally. Charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations of all shapes and sizes already make significant impacts in areas like early intervention, prevention and care and support for people with complex and multiple conditions – and with the right support, there is scope for them to make even more of a difference.

By shifting resources to build organisations’ capacity, extend their reach and improve their connections – enabling community-led interventions which are downstream and preventative – we aim to ensure that more people get the help and support they need without having to visit their GP or other health and social care services.

In addition, we work with public sector colleagues to improve their understanding of how the third sector works with people to improve their health and happiness and how, by equipping people to do more for themselves and each other, third sector organisations play an important and ongoing role in building community resilience.

The Building Healthier and Happier Communities programme demonstrates how investment in the third sector can generate excellent returns, enabling prevention, managing demand on primary care services and supporting people to make a difference that matters to them. We work with local partners to identify the type of support third organisations need to ensure change happens.

“People become passive recipients of services rather than active agents in their own lives. We need to turn that around, and start thinking afresh.”

Sir Harry Burns, Healthier Lives, Better Futures (2012)

Our programme will help to:

  • Manage demand on statutory services by enabling and promoting access to community-led alternatives
  • Prevent problems before they occur – for example, by getting people involved in opportunities which can make a positive difference to their lives
  • Release the abilities, knowledge and resources of organisations and people by taking asset-based and collaborative approaches to building healthier and happier communities
  • Address health inequalities

We want to improve understanding in integration authorities of the approaches which inhibit or support community capacity and the ability of third sector organisations to play a full role in delivering the integration outcomes. By bringing colleagues from the public and third sectors together and encouraging cross-sector collaboration, we will remove some of the barriers to effective partnership working.

By enabling more collaborative approaches within localities and across sectors, we will improve understanding of how community-based approaches to health and social care can release resources and help to manage demand on statutory services. Down the line, we anticipate a shift in resources from institutional settings to people and communities of place or interest – and ultimately, more effective use of public money.

“We are always there for each other. It helps me feel good if I am helping others out.”

Participant of Aftercare through Art and Technology, GRACE (Group Recovery Aftercare Community Enterprise)

Building on success

The first area we are working in is East Dunbartonshire. With the support of the Scottish Government, SCVO is delivering a pathfinder with East Dunbartonshire Voluntary Action (EDVA) – the Third Sector Interface (TSI) – East Dunbartonshire Community Health Partnership, East Dunbartonshire Council and local and national third sector organisations.

The importance of partnership cannot be over-emphasised. In addition to the integration authority and the “front-line” third sector, the TSI plays a pivotal role. Each local authority area in Scotland has a TSI to support, promote, develop and represent the third sector.

Working with our local partners, our aim is to kick start a new approach to building healthier and happier communities and our offer is based on the third sector’s ability to help people do more for themselves and each other. Building on the great work which is already happening in East Dunbartonshire and working with active and engaged partners, our programme is having a positive impact on the health and happiness of people and communities.

Our activity to date has included:

  • Developing and strengthening relationships with local partners
  • Identifying outcomes which meet local and national priorities
  • Engaging with local communities to develop our programme of support
  • Identifying and investing in projects which contribute to prevention, help to address health inequalities and improve health and happiness
  • Developing connections and sharing learning between organisations and across sectors

Find out more

You can get more information on the programme in Get involved in Building Healthier & Happier Communities or contact us for more details.

Sarah Currie
Building Healthier and Happier Communities
Programme Manager
t: 0141 559 5071 • m: 0771 852 6033
e: sarah.currie@scvo.org.uk

Or write to Sarah at:
Building Healthier and Happier Communities,
Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations,
Hayweight House, 23 Lauriston Street,
Edinburgh, EH3 9DQ

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