There are 1.2 million of us in the Black Country, each one of us with a story that is unique. Each of our neighbourhoods have their own unique identities, strengths and challenges to living a healthy and happy life. We will celebrate individuality, not put people into “boxes”, and walk alongside our people and communities to see things through their eyes. 

What good looks like

  • Work harder to recognise the reasons behind issues that communities face, and understand their needs, experiences and priorities for health and care.  
  • Ensure that insight from groups and communities who experience health inequalities is sought effectively and used to make changes to reduce inequity in, and barriers to, care.

Case studies

Our involvement team visited My, Myself and I as part of our listening exercise to help shape a new dementia strategy. Carol talks about us valuing the individual stories of those we heard from, and that led to us being able to begin to understand their needs, experiences and that this insight was used to make changes and develop the strategy.



The NHS in the Black Country is expected to produce a 5 year Joint Forward Plan (JFP) which sets out how we will work together with other partners to improve health outcomes, tackle inequalities, make sure we make the most of the money and services we have, and to help support our local area and communities to develop. It was vital then, that we work harder and smarter to ensure the needs, experiences and priorities of our people and communities were central in the development of the plan.

In November 2022, we launched a microgrant scheme targeted at voluntary, community & social enterprise (VCSE) sector groups and organisations who are working with people who experience the worst health inequalities. We were able to award grants to 27 groups and the money enabled them to host conversations and activities in familiar places, hosted by people recognised as a trusted voice.

Read more about our Joint Forward Plan.

We know that conversations can create health. Instead of broadcasting and trying to ‘fix’ people and communities, by listening more, we can better understand what’s important and what really matters.

We know from the development of our ‘Approach to Involving People and Communities’ that starting with people, meeting them on their terms and recognising that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ are key to a future where we work together to improve health and happiness. The ICB involvement team spend time listening to the needs, dreams and priorities of local communities. We do this regularly by spending time sitting with local groups and organisations, trusted voices and faith/community leaders.

Not only do community conversations allow us to understand the needs, experiences and priorities of our communities, but they also allow us to build relationships with our trusted voices.

Read a selection of our community conversations.

In our Time2Talk service we gather rich insight, stories, and data into the experiences of local people who use our services, but we know that one size doesn’t fit all and have worked to implement a new service to help more of our people and communities to be able to contact us. There will now be a live translation service available on our Time2Talk customer service phone line which connects you with a translator within 60 seconds of dialling the number.

We hope that this will reduce any inequity in being able to raise concerns and complaints which provide vital insight when looking at the quality and performance of our services. It will give us a wider overview of how our services are working for a wider range of our communities, and those whose first language isn’t English. Their voices can be heard, and their experiences used to make changes to reduce inequity in, and barriers to care to ultimately help reduce health inequalities across the Black Country.

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