Gateshead Compact, winner of the Local Compact Award 2011: One year on

gateshead winning awardGateshead local Compact won the Local Compact Award in 2011 (pictured). In this guest blog, Linda Whitfield from Gateshead Council reflects on what has changed over the year and how partners in Gateshead are continuing to work together for the benefit of their community.

Nominations for the 2012 Compact Awards are now open - find out more here.

The Gateshead Compact has continued to influence strong partnership working between Gateshead Council, its private and public sector partners and the voluntary and community sector (VCS).

Since winning the Compact Award in 2011, partnership working, the design of new policies and services and the allocation of resources have all been developed within the key principles set out in the Gateshead Compact.

Some examples of the work we’re undertaking in Gateshead are outlined below; hopefully other areas will find it useful to hear about how we have been developing partnership working in Gateshead.

The Gateshead Fund

The Gateshead Fund is the Council’s £1million fund to support the VCS and social enterprise sector. It is designed to increase sustainability and their ability to deliver services and strengthen local communities.

Alongside the funding is a Capacity Building Team, which is comprised of Council and Gateshead Voluntary Organisations Council (GVOC) Officers. The Capacity Building Team provides a single offer of support to organisations. This support is based on an organisational health check and aims to help them to grow, develop and be more competitive.

An analysis on the impact of the Gateshead Fund in 2011/12 was carried out in March 2012 and showed significant positive impact for the community and in delivery of our economy, environment and health priorities.

The future approach for 2012 onwards will therefore be to build upon our successes with increasing the capacity of the voluntary and community sector and create a thriving sector which is sustainable.

Gateshead Council has agreed to increase the budget for the Gateshead Fund in 2012 from £400,000 to £620,000 to help mitigate against the risks to the VCS identified by the Council’s Budget decisions for 2012/14.

In 2012/13 the funding and the Capacity Building Team have prioritised supporting vulnerable organisations identified by the Council’s Comprehensive Impact Assessment. This was undertaken as part of the 2012-2014 Budget setting process.

Last year, 87 organisations were supported by the Gateshead Fund. Support included business planning, management committee training and legal structure reviews. Since March 2012 there has been one round of applications to the Capacity Building Fund with 56 organisations supported.

The Gateshead Commissioning Framework

The Gateshead Commissioning Framework has been developed to provide guidance on how Gateshead Council will implement a commissioning approach across all its activities.

The Framework was developed around the key commitment within the Gateshead Compact; “Long term planning, clarity and consistency in commissioning, procurement and funding agreements”. It is part of the approach to ensure a shared commitment to working together to improve how the commissioning and procurement process works, the simplification of funding agreements and improved contract management.

Alongside the development of the Commissioning Framework, the Commissioning Exchange, supported by Gateshead Council, was officially launched in March 2012. The Commissioning Exchange, chaired by GVOC, is VCS led and aims to be a mechanism which will allow VCS organisations to become members of a contract ready consortium.

As well as the launch, the Commissioning Exchange has developed a membership prospectus, application form, business plan and partnership agreement. There are currently 20 members of the Exchange. In addition to VCS partnerships development, the Commissioning Exchange has worked closely with commissioners including Gateshead Council and the Director of Public Health.

Council Plan 2012 – 2017

The Council Plan has been agreed to ensure the Council and its partners are well placed to respond to the changes to the economy and to the changing needs of local communities, whilst working towards Vision 2030, Gateshead’s sustainable community strategy. Embedded into the successful delivery of the Council Plan is the development of the voluntary and community sector and creating capacity through volunteering to enable strong and cohesive communities.

What’s next for Gateshead Compact

So, a year on from winning a Compact Award, partnerships across sectors in Gateshead are still strong. Winning a Compact Award has been a great confirmation of the fact that the work we’re doing is valued and is making a difference – and hopefully other areas can learn from some of our initiatives.

Our local Compact is definitely at the heart of partnership working in Gateshead: We developed a case study exploring how it works with Compact Voice after winning the Award, and you can read this here.

If you’d like to know more about some of the projects, you can check out our winning nomination from last year’s Awards or leave a comment below.

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