This article originally appeared in the HSJ.
Recent months have seen an increased interest in anchor institution networks, whereby NHS institutions and partners – like local authorities, universities, housing associations and the VCSE sector – collaborate to develop solutions to local social and economic problems. At CLES we work with and support many of these networks and, as this interest fuels an increase in activity, we are observing how these collaborations are not simply firefighting problems as they arise but also feeding into a more fundamental change in how anchor institutions view their role in the local economy.
In my role as Co-ordinator for the Birmingham Anchor Network I have been privileged to observe this process in action. This time last year the Network launched its pilot Hospitality to Health employment programme, as a response to an urgent employment crisis being faced by two of its members. Housing association, Pioneer Housing Group, were concerned about the number of their residents at risk of redundancy from a hospitality sector reeling from the effects of Covid-19, while at the same time University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust needed to recruit significant numbers of staff at entry level positions to support in responding to the pandemic.