How the Cabinet Office and Compact Voice work together to promote partnership working

A lot of our public facing work here at Compact Voice focuses on the local element of our work.

But an equally important aspect of what we do is raising awareness of the Compact at a national level, and encouraging government departments to work well in partnership with the voluntary sector.

We primarily do this through practising what we preach and working in partnership with the Office for Civil Society (and the wider Cabinet Office, where OCS is based).

Together, we develop an annual Joint Action Plan that lists a number of practical actions for each of us to undertake throughout the year, with the intention of raising awareness of the Compact across departments.

Ultimately we’re working towards ensuring that the voluntary and community sector is included in the development and design of policies, that they’re consulted on a regular basis – but also that national government departments understand the benefits of working with the sector and how the Compact can help strengthen those relationships.

How we’ve worked to improve partnerships nationally

One of the main achievements to emerge from the 2013-14 Joint Action Plan was the establishment of regular Compact Forum meetings at Whitehall. These meetings are attended by ‘Compact leads’ from across every department.

These meetings have taken place quarterly, and have allowed us to hear first-hand about what each department is doing to embed the Compact in their partnerships. The meetings have also been a good way for departments to hear about what others have been doing and what’s worked well.

Over the course of the year, Compact Voice has helped departments to better engage with the voluntary sector. We have held information stalls in department’s cafeterias, provided content about the Compact for their intranets, held training sessions and provided materials for departments to distribute.

Cabinet Office has worked to share good practice in partnership working by encouraging departments to provide case studies and Compact Award nominations to highlight a range of useful examples from across Whitehall and at a local level.

Cabinet Office has also actively encouraged meaningful engagement with the sector, and has established dialogue between policy leads across government and Compact Voice. This has led to some of the constructive work we’ve undertaken as part of the Open Government Partnership’s civil society network, and has ensured we were linked into discussions about changing procurement requirements.

Alongside the quarterly Compact forums, Compact Voice and the Office for Civil Society also meet on an ad hoc basis to discuss upcoming issues, share policy developments and look at the different departments’ Compact commitments in their business plans, and ensure these are on track.

What’s on the cards for 2014-15

We’ll be working on a new Joint Action Plan in the coming weeks, which will be published on our website in due course.

An area that we’ve been working on developing is outlining a clear ‘offer’ of support to departments - and we will be continuing to provide information and training wherever needed.

Cabinet Office and Compact Voice will continue to work towards ensuring that the quarterly Compact forum meetings remain useful and topical for attendees.

As a starting point, Cath Cook, our Engagement Development Officer for the North of England, attended the meeting in May, sharing local insights and voluntary sector trends with departmental attendees.

We’re looking forward to working closely with the Office for Civil Society in 2014 to ensure that, like this year, we achieve all the actions our joint plan – improving partnership working nationally as a result.

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