A year in the life of an Engagement Development Officer

Cath CookI have been in my post now for twelve months. The time has gone very quickly as I have been extremely busy.

In an earlier blog, I initially set myself a challenge to see if the Compact could improve my geography. Well, I can safely say that it has. I have found my way across the three regions of the North East, North West and Yorkshire and Humber mainly using public transport. I don’t seem to get lost as much anymore and I recognise names in these regions immediately now, which is a huge achievement for me.

During the last twelve months I have been to Compact Partnership meetings in a variety of places such as York, Redcar & Cleveland and Rochdale. I have supported organisations in Oldham, Gateshead and Lancashire to write case studies highlighting good practice in their areas.

I’ve given presentations in Congleton, Ormskirk and Wyre, attended 1-2-1 meetings to discuss the problems across the regions and how areas can progress with renewing their local Compact. 

I frequently tell people about the experiences that I had when I worked in Oldham and how we renewed the Compact there, which often helps to put things into perspective.

A lot of my work though has been spent providing in-depth support to certain local areas through our Priority Areas programme. This programme allows us to identify and address local barriers to Compact implementation, provide a project framework, and agree measurable targets. Once barriers and possible solutions are identified, a project proposal is then produced which lays out activities to be delivered, partners responsible and delivery dates.  

This ensures commitment to the project and provides us with an opportunity to monitor impact and set ongoing goals after the project ends.

I have worked on priority agreements in areas like Stockton-on-Tees, where the Compact was launched in September 2011 and plans are afoot to get the Compact embedded in mainstream Structures.

I’ve also worked in Preston, helping draft a new Compact and give support to consultations and various meetings. Darlington are working on a programme of raising awareness and gaining renewed commitments from signatories.

I have met some wonderful people and visited some very different areas from the cosmopolitan and quaint to the rural countryside.

Local Compacts are as diverse as the geographical areas of the regions. 

It has not all been plain sailing, but having the ability to travel to areas does help - and the impact has been notable, with concrete examples of where changes and improvements have occurred.

I look forward to the next 12 months with the same commitment and enthusiasm.

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