Prospective Parliamentary Candidates should pledge their support for the voluntary and community sector

Since the announcement of the general election last week, prospective parliamentary candidates around the country have announced that they are seeking our votes.
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Between now and May 6th, newspapers, televisions, radio and websites will be saturated with persuasive arguments about why you should vote for one party over another. 
While it's impossible to predict the outcome of the election, it's safe to say that there will be positive and negative campaigns, personal attacks and policy announcements, scandals and sanctimony. During this time, it's important to remember that your local candidates aren't just representing their party, they represent all of us in Westminster.
Your vote should not only reflect your confidence in their party manifesto, but also that they are the best person to support and tackle local issues. Some might even argue that the latter is more important.

The voluntary sector plays a vital role in the community. From the work of large national organisations to small community groups, the sector can make communities better. With the threat of cuts to services, the continuing impact of the current economic climate, and an ever-increasing shift to decisions being made at local level, elected candidates must be able to tackle these - and other - issues.
Recognising and engaging with the work of the sector is a fundamental way for candidates to ensure they are better serving the interests of their constituents. Compact Voice has contacted every prospective parliamentary candidate in England, seeking their responses to the following three questions:
1. How important is the charity and voluntary sector to your constituency?
2. What efforts will you make - if elected - to work with local charities and voluntary sector organisations in your constituency?
3. Will you champion the Compact in your constituency, to encourage better partnership working between the local public sector and the voluntary and community sector?

Many PPCs have already sent through answers to these questions, which will serve not only as a way of gauging their views on the sector, but also provide the opportunity for candidates to be held to account on any pledges of support they may make.
We've developed a new website, at http://election.compactvoice.org.uk. You can search for your constituency and see the views of the candidates seeking your vote.

This website also contains information about how different groups and organisations in the sector are addressing the election, and you may be interested to see some of the work happening across the country during this important time.

We need your help
Given how busy the candidates will be during this time, we all need to work together to make them realise how important their answers are. And for that, we need your help. Compact Voice is calling on its members and networks to help us gather as much information as possible. You can help us in the following ways:

1) Visit http://election.compactvoice.org.uk, and find the response from candidates in your constituency
2) If your candidate hasn't responded, please contact and encourage them to. Here's a template email you can use (PDF 27KB). Web addresses are included for many of the candidates - if there's no contact information email us
3) If you receive responses, please email them to us for inclusion on the website
4) If candidates or representatives visit you in person, remind them of the importance of the Compact and to answer our questions
5) If you are aware of any election-specific activities being undertaken by groups or organisations in your area, email us and we will include them on the website.

With your help, we can meaningfully gather the opinions of those who may represent you and your interests in Westminster for the next five years. With your help we can share and promote the work of the sector in your area. And with your help we can promote the principles and importance of good partnership working and the Compact. Thanks.

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Tom