Guest blog: Championing the Compact in Essex

This guest blog is from Yvette Wetton, Policy and Strategy Officer at Essex County Council.

Yvette discusses how Compact Champions from across the sectors took on a challenge to raise awareness of the Essex Compact during 2012 Compact Week.

When we refreshed the Essex Compact in 2008, it was agreed that Compact Champions were the key ingredient to successful Compact working in Essex, and to keeping alive what could become yet another dusty and moth eaten document on the bookshelf. 

Essex is a complex place - there are 23 statutory authorities and more medium,small and micro community and voluntary organisations than can be counted - so we had to do something that would help all the component parts to work together and keep the 100+ Essex Compact Champions on board and the momentum going.

In addition to our Annual Compact Forum and our monthly Compact Champions Updates, each year we survey our Champions to find out what their experiences have been over the past year and to ask what action they would support for the coming year. 

When we surveyed our Champions in 2012 they told us that they felt that there needed to be more promotion and implementation of the local Compact, so the challenge was on…!

We challenged our Champions to undertake activities that would raise the profile of the Essex Compact and improve its implementation over a two week period around the national Compact week.

Our Champions didn’t let us down - activities took place right across Essex; from articles in internal magazines and eBulletins, putting the Compact on the agenda at Trustee networks, Compact events, the development of a Compact eLearning package and the Compact was ‘fringed’ onto existing training courses over the Challenge fortnight.

The results so far look good. We’ve already had new organisations signing up to the Essex Compact who were previously unaware of its existence, new Champions from organisations already signed up and really positive feedback about the Compact and how helpful it can be when used positively. 

One fantastic example was where the Essex Compact was picked out as an example of good practice in an ‘Excellent’ result in an Equality & Diversity Peer Review of Essex County Council.

And of course a highlight during the ‘Challenge’ was learning the fantastic news that the Braintree Compact had been shortlisted in the 2012 Compact Awards!

In Essex we’ve very much taken the stance that the Compact should be a helpful thing for organisations to be able to use rather than as a punitive threat when the going gets tough. 

This isn’t intended to pretend that everything is working perfectly between the sectors in Essex, but that in the spirit of Compact working we recognise our distinct but complementary roles and should be endeavouring to work together in the development and delivery of public policy and services in both statutory organisations and the organisations within the voluntary and community sector.

- Yvette Wetton, Essex County Council

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