DWP celebrate the power of partnerships with internal Compact Awards

kelly for blogI have been working closely with different government departments for the last 6 months, and what has struck me the most is that a) departments are very big and as a result b) there is good partnership work happening somewhere in every department.
 
Sometimes, their willingness to include the voluntary sector isn’t promoted widely, it just happens as part of day to day activities, beneath the radar.
 
So it was hugely encouraging to see the Department for Work and Pensions taking steps to raise awareness of the benefits of the Compact approach, highlighting some of the good partnership working taking place between DWP and the voluntary sector, via their recent internal ‘New Year Compact Awards’.
 
DWP put out a call across the country for their staff to enter examples of good practice in partnership working for an Award. The process not only highlighted some of the good work happening across the country, but had the knock on effect of alerting a wide range of DWP staff to the Compact and how it can benefit them by helping to maintain and strengthen these partnerships.
 
DWP’s Compact leads promoted the Awards widely and received over 30 nominations. Of these, there were 8 winners in categories that were inspired by those in the national Compact Awards.
 
DWP wanted to bring these winners together in London to celebrate their success – but also wanted to make it a useful learning opportunity for the winners. So it was organised as a workshop and seminar as well as a presentation.
 
I attended the event and gave the winners a presentation about the voluntary sector more widely – its size and scope, the benefits of working with the sector – as well as information about local Compacts, national Compact developments across other departments and what the Compact means for DWP.
 
The winners then spent an hour talking through their projects with each other – key aims, who was involved and what lessons were learnt about working with the voluntary sector.
 
Next on the agenda was a short workshop discussing questions like ‘what opportunities do we have in DWP to further demonstrate the principles of the Compact’ and ‘what do we need to do to encourage/enable DWP staff  to demonstrate the principles of the Compact in their work’.
 
And finally, the awards were presented by DWP’s Permanent Secretary, Robert Devereux.
 
The practical, positive examples were inspiring and were all things that could be easily replicated across the country. Congratulations to the winners, their VCS partners and to DWP for organising a useful and constructive event.
 
Some of the winning partnership projects included:
 
JobCentrePlus Lewisham working with Community Teachsport
 
JobCentrePlus Lewisham developed a programme in partnership with the not for profit Community Interest Company Community Teachsport.
 
Together these two organisations work with Lewisham Council (who provide playing field facilities), the Territorial Army, local employers in the fitness industry and professional sports clubs to use sport as a means of engaging young people in activities to help them secure employment.
 
JobCentre Plus and Community Teachsport work together to allow groups of young people to access a range opportunities combining coaching qualifications, employability skills, job matching and work experience, alongside motivational sessions run by the Territorial Army.
 
At the Awards event at DWP, one of the attendees from Lewisham shared a great story of one of their clients who was a young man with a history of offending. Because of his background, he was most likely to secure work on a self-employed basis. Lewisham JobCentrePlus worked with CommunityTeachsport to enrol him on a Personal Trainer course. He is now self-employed as a Personal Trainer at a local gym.
 
National Employer Service Team and Tinder Foundation
 
Members of DWP’s National Employer Service Team (NEST) worked with Tinder Foundation (a social enterprise) to provide work experience placements.
 
Tinder Foundation supports a network of thousands of community organisations and their customers to use computers and the internet with confidence.
 
The work experience placements enabled young people who had IT skills but limited or no experience of the world of work to develop IT teaching and customer service skills. So far the project has led to 20% of them finding paid work. The partnership also benefitted the local community by providing a lifeline for the ‘digitally excluded’, giving them the tools and confidence to use IT and the internet. 
 
Maxine Bowler of The Heeley Development Centre, a community organisation in Sheffield which runs IT training sessions in libraries, said:
 
“The NEST team set up an account manager to liaise with local JobCentres to submit suitable unemployed people to Heeley Centre for work experience… I make sure they have extensive training in teaching IT digital matters. So far, we’ve had 14 young people on work experience and 3 have already moved into paid work. One person was talented but very shy. Work experience boosted his confidence so much that he now has a job”.
 
JobCentre Plus and Charlton Athletic Community Trust
 
JobCentre Plus is Woolwich won the Compact Engagement Award for their work with local voluntary and community organisations to address the needs of customers with multiple needs or a history of gang membership or domestic violence.
 
One of the voluntary and community organisations they partnered with was Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT). Through this partnership, CACT’s innovative programmes harnessed the power of football to engage socially excluded groups – and the JobCentre Plus team were able to encourage and support disadvantaged customers to improve their lives through work.

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