Provoking engagement

vicky reddingOne of the best reasons to renew a local Compact is to develop engagement in the renewal process from a wide range of local organisations.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But in the current climate of shrinking resources and growing pressure on frontline service delivery in both sectors, getting people to respond to consultations, attend events and engage in shaping a local Compact can be an uphill struggle. So I was intrigued by a great example of ‘provocative’ engagement in the renewal of the Bristol Compact that I came across recently.

In fact, it was provocative in a creative way. Mark Hubbard who is the Compact Officer at Voscur in Bristol used social media and Twitter in particular to provoke a response from the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) to the consultation on the renewal of the Bristol Compact. Here are examples of a couple of his tweets that generated a bit of a stir.

“Is 2 weeks enough to respond to consultations? What do you think? Have your say now about the new Bristol Compact.”

“Decisions made behind closed doors – is that ok? Have your say about the new Bristol Compact”

Of course, the draft Bristol Compact was not proposing only two weeks for consultation, or that decisions would be made behind closed doors. But it could have been and the tweets helped to generate a great response.

   Voscur received over 50 responses to the renewal consultation and 80% of those came from the VCS, something they were really pleased about as they particularly wanted to ensure that the VCS’s priorities were reflected in the new document.

It’s easy to take the commitments in a local Compact for granted - many of them such as engaging properly when consulting and giving 3 months’ notice of withdrawal of funding have become standard practice in most local areas. However, I doubt if they would be so widely applied without the backing of local Compacts.

  Voscur’s provocative tweets helped local organisations to realise that the Compact is relevant to them and encouraged them to take time to comment on what the revised document should include.

Renewing a local Compact is a big undertaking and sometimes the focus of the renewal becomes the document itself. The trick is to ensure engagement from a wide range of organisations, including new audiences such as Clinical Commissioning Groups. This in turn develops local ownership and means the Compact is much more likely to be implemented.

Our survey of local Compacts in 2012 showed that the most common year in which local Compacts were published was 2010, when many local areas renewed their Compact to bring it in line with the revised national document. 28% of local areas told us they would be renewing their local Compact in the next year and I’m working with several places that are doing that at the moment.

I’ll be encouraging them to follow Bristol’s provocative example! If you’d like help to renew or raise the profile of your local Compact please get in touch with the Compact Voice engagement team.

Follow Voscur on Twitter - @voscur.


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