Public Services for All

“Our vision for Cornwall is a place where local people and communities have a full and active say in the delivery of public services that matter to them.”

Below you will find:

• Examples of existing work in Cornwall addressing the theme.
• Examples of existing work outside of Cornwall addressing the theme.
• Proposals of how work in this thematic area might be developed and expanded.

Existing Works in Cornwall

Active Plus

Active Plus deliver unique programmes that build CONFIDENCE, MOTIVATION and SELF-BELIEF amongst a wide range of vulnerable groups – young and old, healthy and less well, in work or out of it.

It’s all about building CONFIDENCE and UNLOCKING POTENTIAL of people, many of whom have never been truly valued or who find themselves going through tough times right now.

Unique to Active Plus, and the key to our success is a delivery team of wounded, injured, sick and retired military veterans who we support on their own journey and who have experienced many of the circumstances of the people they are supporting.
Our veterans empathise, inspire, challenge and gain respect in a way that is a powerful force for change – both for our service users and the veterans themselves.

Active Plus are providing group and 1-2-1 support across Cornwall and helping vulnerable and potentially vulnerable people access services, improve their confidence and develop a sense of belonging, self-worth and achievement. Each participant will be assigned a mentor who will support them throughout their journey. The mentor will work with the participant to understand their goals and help them towards that by tapping into the available provision.

We believe in strong communities, in which people support and look out for each other. Our ethos and support is built on the principle of people “helping themselves by helping others” and this is reflected through our work force of wounded, injured, sick and retired military veterans who use the skills gained in their service careers to help others live the life they want.

We have already supported over 850 people on their journey to education, training or employment.

Cornish NHS Patient Participation Groups

A patient participation group (PPG) is a group of people who are patients of the surgery and want to help it work as well as it can for patients, doctors and staff. From 2016, it has been a requirement for all English GP practices to form a PPG and to make reasonable efforts for this to be representative of the practice population.

The role of the PPG can include:

– Being a critical friend to the practice.
– Advising the practice on the patient perspective.
– Encouraging patients to take a greater involvement in their healthcare.
– Carrying out research into the views of those that use the practice.
– Organising events and fundraising events.
– Regular communication with the patients.
– Running volunteer services and support groups to meet local needs.

A large number of Cornish GP surgeries have patient participation groups. You can find more details of these and videos of their activities on the following website:

Age UK Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly TAP (Transport Access People)

Age UK Cornwall and The Isles of Scilly transport service is both accessible and affordable it promotes and facilities independence and well – being, allowing individuals and groups to take control of their daily living and undertake normal activities

They arrange door-to-door transport for people who have difficulty accessing other forms of public transport. They specialise in non-emergency healthcare appointments, trips to the library, memory cafes, meeting friends for lunch and shopping excursions.

TAP performs an invaluable role in the community, providing individuals, organisations & groups the opportunity to find out what transport is available, identify the cost and to book & co-ordinate the service with ease.

Without this service, many people across Cornwall and Devon quite simply would not be able to reach many of their health appointments.

TAP provides a service to get to non-emergency healthcare appointments for people who have difficulty accessing other forms of public transport. Appointments such as hospital, optician, dental, foot care or audiology.

Cornish Community Network Panels

There are 19 community networks in Cornwall which work to connect communities and empower them to address important local issues, such as the delivery of public services. The Community Network Panel discusses issues affecting the community network area and agrees ways to progress them. It also seeks to build working relationships between local partners. Panel meetings are open to the public and the press. Our public guide to community network panels explains how the meetings work and rules for reporting and filming meetings.

Some of the issues that community networks deal with include economic development, local services, the environment, community planning, regeneration, conservation, community safety, and transport and highway issues.

The panel includes local Cornwall Councillors and representatives from town and parish councils within the community network area. The panel can invite local organisations and service providers, like the Police and health services, to join them at their meetings.

The panels work to:

– Identify, agree and drive forward local priorities for their community network area.
– Have their say on local service delivery and on strategies that affect their communities.
– Work together to promote the wellbeing of their local areas and bring communities together.
– Build relationships between the people and organisations working in their communities.

Existing Works Outside of Cornwall

The Community Managed Libraries National Peer Network

A Community Library is usually an independent library set up as a charity (or similar) and which is run entirely by unpaid volunteers. The rise of volunteer libraries in the UK is closely linked to the decline in funding for traditionally paid-staff libraries. Where there has been funding gaps, the community has had to step in to help.

The downside of community libraries is that professional librarians are often put out of work, and that the provision of the service is down to the good-will of the community. However, there have been some benefits to these libraries, including increased community involvement in the control of local services and the saving of libraries which otherwise would have been closed.

The Community Managed Libraries National Peer Network helps community managed libraries (CMLs) to run effectively and successfully by sharing ideas, learning, experiences and inspiration.

The Community Managed Libraries National Peer Network works in the following ways:

– Helping community managed libraries to learn from each other, exchange information and good practice.
– Running learning and networking events
– Creating and sharing resources of benefit to community managed libraries
– Providing a voice to raise issues that matter to community managed libraries,
– Drawing on learning and good working practices from other peer networks

We Own It

We Own It campaigns against privatisation and for 21st century public ownership. They believe public services belong to all of us – from the NHS to schools, water to energy, rail to Royal Mail, care work to council services. They see public ownership as an essential way of having public services run in the interests of people and not in service of profits.

They believe that privatisation keeps failing – but that there are lots of brilliant examples of public ownership. They hope that nationalisation will save money for the public purse, improve people’s lives, and help us tackle the climate crisis.

Polling clearly shows that public ownership is very popular. In fact, it’s popularity is growing. According to YouGov, between 2017 and 2019, support for public ownership increased, with well over half of the population now supporting public ownership of the NHS, schools, prisons, utilities and public transport.

We Own It also campaign on the platform that privatisation is bad for public involvement in the running of essential services. If a private company runs a service, they are not democratically accountable. The people don’t have a voice. They argue that with privatisation there is very little transparency, public accountability or scrutiny. The companies are not subject to Freedom of Information requests because of ‘commercial confidentiality’.

We Own It work with others to campaign against specific instances of privatisation, and through public campaigning in favour of public ownership. They are frequently featured in media coverage, including on Radio 4, Channel 4, Sky News, the Mirror, Guardian, and Financial Times​.

Proposals for Future Work

An Extract from Ann Thomas CEO of Cornwall Care writing in A Fair and Just Future for Cornwall

The fight against coronavirus has, in many ways, been a wake-up call. Health and social care colleagues have had to work collaboratively – meaning the boundaries once created to guard individual interests no longer apply and the playing field we’ve been trying for years to flatten is finally becoming more level. To free up beds in the current crisis, we have had to talk to each other and find solutions quickly.

When this crisis ends – which one day it will – we have to continue that process. Rather than competing for finite resources and arguing over protocols, we need to build on the relationships we’ve forged and start planning holistically I would like to see more seamless, integrated working….health and social care will be treated equally and a career in care will be prized and respected for the skilled and professional option it is.

It’s easy to become entrenched in accepted ways of doing things without thinking laterally and more creatively. The Cornwall Care approach is to put the person being cared for at the top, with care workers on the tier below, managers next and directors at the bottom.

It can take over an hour to coax an elderly person to eat, especially if they are living with dementia? Infinite patience, compassion and skill are required and they are precisely the qualities that those working in our social care industry demonstrate day after day, week after week. Specialist care needs to be designed properly and responsibly and that’s why I believe we need a national review into the way care is resourced and commissioned.

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s surely that we’re all human beings and community support is vital to our well-being.

Let’s value everyone working in health and social care. And let’s work together, not apart.

Wellbeing in the Workplace Must Be at the Top of the Agenda

The fight against coronavirus has, in many ways, been a wake-up call. Health and social care colleagues have had to work collaboratively – meaning the boundaries once created to guard individual interests no longer apply and the playing field we’ve been trying for years to flatten is finally becoming more level. To free up beds in the current crisis, we have had to talk to each other and find. A retiring school nurse was asked recently how things had changed in her 30 years at the school. She replied that in the early days, most children coming to see her had fallen out of a tree, been hit with a stick or stone or cut their knees. Now, she continued, they are nearly all stress, depression, anxiety attacks, cyber-bullying – in other words, mental health has overtaken physical as the issue of our times. And the workplace is the same – not that we used to hit people with a stick, you understand. Working remotely, worries about technology taking your role or emasculating your independence, relentless pinging of devices connected to a million networks and not taking downtime, will continue to create mental health issues.

We need to work together in, what should be healthy, places like Cornwall to find health and life-based solutions our times. And the workplace is the same – not that we used to hit people with a stick, you understand. Working remotely, worries about technology taking your role or emasculating your independence, relentless pinging of devices connected to a million networks and not taking downtime, will continue to create mental health issues.

For example Cornwall Chamber of Commerce is working with Cornwall Council on the Beacon project, the Inclusivity programme and many other public and private initiatives to put wellbeing in the workplace at the top of the agenda. Without a happy team, we’re not going to make the leaps ahead we’re capable of. This is a global issue so a combination of local action, government legislation and tech giant regulation will be needed.

But, speaking as a businessperson, things won’t change without collective effort and shared responsibility. It’s important. Some bits are urgent. We need a plan.

Kim Conchie, CEO Cornwall Chamber of Commerce
Extract from CIPF – A Fair and Just Future for Cornwall Report

Proposals from Jane Bernal – Keep Our NHS Publicly Owned Cornwall

Mental Health
The pandemic was a dreadful time for everyone, with many facing complex bereavement issues and others spending many lonely hours isolating. Children and young people have suffered from lack of social contact, educational opportunities and loss of rites of passage. The effects of all this plus the economic uncertainty, fear of Covid and the long-lasting psychological after-effects must not be underestimated.

Recommendation: Cornwall’s health and care system must ensure that community and hospital mental health and bereavement services have the resources to deal with an increase in mental health problems.


Cornwall Council, as part of a welcome national initiative to end homelessness during lockdown, found emergency housing for 230 people. They are also committed to find “move on” accommodation, so people don’t end up back on the streets as lockdown lifts. However, there is no long-term funding for this from central government.

Recommendation: KONP recognises the contribution of homelessness to ill-health and premature death and demand the council’s actions are maintained by adequate central funding.

Even before the pandemic, health and social care were underfunded, nationally and locally. Health budgets increased but at a far lower rate than needed, leading to constant pressure for cuts. Cornwall suffers from the current Health Funding Formula which fails to recognise the special challenges of a rural, peripheral area with a rapidly ageing population. In parallel to what are effectively cuts in health budgets, government has cut the rate support grant to Cornwall Council. The council has done its best to protect adult social care but other budgets including public health have been cut.

Cornwall Council has already spent £34 million on Covid-19, £1.6m on PPE alone, as well as major expenditure on homelessness and support to local businesses, while losing income from council tax, business rates, and car parking. Government grants to date cover about half of this expenditure. At the outset government promised to ensure local authorities’ costs were covered.

Recommendations: KONP urge our MPs and all who speak for Cornwall, to press for the promises made by the Chancellor at the start of the pandemic to be honoured. We demand a national increase in NHS funding, urgent review of the current funding formula, and rapid restoration of cuts in government grants to local authorities.

We also demand that health and social care staff are paid to a level that reflects their value to our communities and that will attract young people into the sector and support the Ethical Care Charter already adopted by Cornwall Council.

These proposals are based on an article by Jane Bernal, Chair of Keep Our NHS Public-Owned (KONP), relating to the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic, and looking at some ways forward for Health and Social Care in Cornwall.

For All Public Services to Abide by the Public Sector Equality Duty

For all Public services to abide by the public sector equality duty so that everyone can have access to health, dental, council services. In Cornwall access to dentists is a major concern.

Buildings are not fit for purpose and do not adhere to the equality duty. If our public services do not consider how a function can affect different groups in different ways, it cannot deliver the minimum standard of service to the public.

By not being legally compliant public services in Cornwall are contributing to greater inequality and poor outcomes on the services they provide. It requires equality considerations to be reflected into the design of policies and the delivery of services, including internal policies, and for these issues to be kept under review.

Compliance with the general equality duty is a legal obligation and currently this is failing across Cornwall. We need to see commitment from all public services to deliver inclusive access.