Barriers and facilitators to partnership working between Early Intervention Services and the volunatry and community sector

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Partnership working between health and the voluntary and community sector has become an increasing political priority. This paper describes and explores the extent and patterns of partnership working between health and the voluntary and community sector in the context of Early Intervention Services for young people with a first episode of psychosis. Data were collected from 12 Early Intervention Services and through semistructured interviews with 47 voluntary and community sector leads and 42 commissioners across the West Midlands of England. Most partnerships were described as ad hoc and informal in nature although four formal partnerships between Early Intervention Services and voluntary and community sector organizations had been established. Shared agendas, the ability to refer clients onto an organization that could provide a service they could not and shared training facilitated partnership working in this context. Barriers to closer working included differences in culture such as managing risk, the time required to make and maintain relationships and recognition of the advantages of remaining a small and autonomous organization. The four more formal partnerships were also built on the organizations' experience of working together informally, in one case through a specific pilot project. The voluntary and community organizations involved were also branches of larger national organizations for whom finding sustainable funding was less of an issue. In theoretical terms, eight Early Intervention Service: voluntary and community sector partnerships were at a stage of 'pre-partnership collaboration', three at 'partnership creation and consolidation' and one at 'partnership programme delivery'. The empirical data viewed through the lens of the partnership life-cycle model could help early intervention services, and voluntary and community sector professionals better understand where they are, why they are there and the conditions needed to realise the full potential of partnership working.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-500
Number of pages8
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


  • psychosis, community settings, mental health services