Trusted voices are those friendly faces in communities and are the individuals or organisations that people feel safe around, confide in over a cup of tea or take advice and information from. This could be a faith leader, a voluntary sector group or organisation, a school teacher or the local barber. We know that there is much distrust towards institutions such as the NHS or Councils, and although we will work to repair that, we must work with and invest in the people who are trusted within communities. 

What good looks like

  • Work with Healthwatch and the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector as key partners. 

Case studies

Hear from Sulmaan who talks about the involvement team working with Trusted voices, and how this approach allows for conversations in a safe and relaxed environment.

Sulmaan describes how working in this way goes a long way in breaking down barriers to listening to communities, and some of the perceptions of NHS and statutory bodies which makes for more meaningful, open and honest conversations.


Sarah talks about the community reporting programme across the Black Country which seeks to elevate trusted voices and existing connections between people and communities that face the poorest health outcomes and local Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) groups and organisations. Read more about the community reporting.


Community conversations are a non-negotiable part of the ICB Involvement team’s week as we listen to understand the needs, experiences, and priorities of our communities, acknowledging that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’.

Read a selection of our community conversations.

Trusted voices are the preferred way, and sometimes the only way, to connect with underserved, marginalised, seldom heard communities. Creating time for being with and listening to trusted voices, community leaders and people who are portrayed as ‘hard to reach’ has resulted in new and mutually beneficial relationships emerging with VCSE partners that work with and support local people and communities.

Stacey talks about our involvement team's community conversations; centred around sitting with and listening to communities, and the principle of listening, acting, and feeding back.


The voluntary, community, and social enterprise (VCSE) in the Black Country is densely populated and diverse, with nearly 4,000 organisations ranging from small volunteer-led groups to registered charities and social enterprises, including the faith sector and sports and leisure clubs. Given that the Black Country is the second most highly deprived area in the West Midlands, it is unsurprising that it has a vast number of VCSE organisations supporting our communities.

Not only is the sector recognised as a key provider of services within the community, it is also one of the largest socio-economic contributors in the Black Country, delivering highly skilled, professional, and targeted support to those whose needs are not being met by statutory health and care providers.

The Black Country VCSE Partnership Alliance is a collective voice for the VCSE sector in the Black Country. The 80 Alliance members provide an interface with the wider sector and are the vehicle for brokering VCSE subject matter experts and thematic leads into system workspaces to influence strategic thinking and decision-making. We are proud to work in tandem with our friends and colleagues in the VCSE and are continually humbled by their unwavering dedication, compassion, and expertise. When it comes to coproducing healthier, happier, brighter futures, no one does it better than our VCSE partners.

Hear from Kate and Chris at Just Straight Talk about how one of our early community conversations with their team and some of the people they support has blossomed into a mutually beneficial and thriving relationship. 


Our ICB involvement team meet regularly with Healthwatch colleagues to share insight, updates and to avoid duplications. We also include all recent Healthwatch reports as part of our update to Strategic Commissioning Committee for them to have oversight and understand of local issues and priorities.

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