Award made us realise how far we'd come: Guest blog from Victoria Lawson, Head of Policy at London Borough of Sutton

Victoria Lawson London Borough of SuttonVictoria Lawson is Head of Policy, Leadership and Governance for the London Borough of Sutton. Victoria has lead responsibility for strategic working with the voluntary sector. She is also Treasurer for London Funders. The London Borough of Sutton and its voluntary sector partners won the Local Compact Partnership award at the 2013 Compact Awards and the Compact Impact Award at the 2014 Compact Awards.
Find out how to submit a nomination for the 2015 Compact Awards here.

“….awarded for outstanding commitment to the Compact, with demonstrable ongoing outcomes and improvements delivered and communicated for communities”
These were the words uttered in 2013 just before it was announced that Sutton had won the Local Compact Partnership award. It was a complete surprise to the team that attended.
In Sutton, we have a long history and track record of working collaboratively with our local voluntary sector. Partnership working is something we pride ourselves on, although we have tended to work away quietly and industriously, and not shouted about it. So to have these words publicly describe our work was fantastic.
We signed our first Compact back in 2003 and it has been the foundation of our partnership working ever since. For over 10 years we have built strong partnerships and, because we had become accustomed to it, we never thought it warranted an award - it was just what we do here!
However, following a refresh of our Compact in 2012 in line with changes nationally, we put in for our first award. It focused primarily on that partnership foundation and the strength of our working relationships. We had so much to say about what we had achieved that 500 words didn't seem to do it justice; so it was to our genuine surprise that we won our first Compact Award.
We were so thrilled to win and our lead Member who has championed the voluntary sector said it was a proud moment for us. And it was. We recognised that we did have some really positive things to say and share. We had something that others could potentially learn from.
So how did we get to this point? It sounds simple but communication and leadership have been fundamental. In Sutton, we recognise the importance of working together to improve the outcomes for our residents. It's not always been easy and we have not always agreed - why would we? The financial challenges the public and voluntary sectors face mean we have had to fundamentally change our approach and we have had to ask others to change with us. We've managed this through collaboration and engagement, through discussion and sometimes even through disagreement. However, we are always at the table together working to achieve excellence for our residents.
We also have some good examples, whether that’s putting commissioning at the heart of how we consider and deliver our services; our joint work on social value; our training on commissioning for outcomes; working together to think about how we build capacity in the voluntary sector; or looking at options for a voluntary sector hub using potential council assets. We have a strong foundation and our Compact is a living document that guides both the public sector and voluntary sector.
We are proud of our work, we were proud of our first award and we were equally proud to win the Compact Impact Award in 2014. The big question is what will the 2015 awards bring...
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