‘Can I Just ask..?’ – Making the Compact work for you

Cath Cook

Cath Cook is Compact Voice’s Engagement Development Officer. Her work covers the north east, north west and Yorkshire and Humber.

My role, and that of my colleagues Monika and Hilary, is to support local areas to make the most of their local Compact, as well as help people to implement them better. But how can they do that if they are not fully aware of what the Compact is, and what its benefits are? We always encourage people to ask us any questions they might have, no matter what they are, to help them gain a clearer understanding.

Monika, Hilary and I go to lots of events; we give speeches and presentations, run workshops and set up information stands. We get asked the same questions a lot, and the answers are just as relevant whether you are in the north, south, east or west.

We’ve been asked…

‘Will the Compact stop my funding from being cut?’

The simple answer is no. However, the Compact does outline agreed good practice for both sectors to follow when entering into, or concluding, a funding relationship. Knowing about these commitments can help to make the final decision fair, and involve you in a mutually agreed process.

We always say that the Compact is most effective when used at the beginning of relationships – it’s not just a tool to get out when things go wrong. It can be the foundation on which good relationships across different sectors are based.

‘The Compact only covers volunteering, right?’

Another misconception is that the Compact is only about volunteering. Surprisingly or not, we most often hear this from people working in the public sector.

At an event I was at recently, I had an information stand and somebody came up to me and said ‘I do some voluntary work at weekends. Do I need to know about the Compact?’ This wasn’t a daft question, because that person went away with a clearer understanding of how they could use the Compact in their day to day job as well as being a volunteer.

The key is that the Compact is relevant and useful for both sectors. It’s not just a tool for the voluntary sector, it can help people in the public sector to do their job better- especially when commissioning or procuring services from the voluntary sector.

‘If it ain’t broke, why fix it?’

I was also asked by one local authority why they should sign up to a Compact when they are already working well with the voluntary sector.

Well it’s not about fixing something, it’s about strengthening it.

There is nothing to be scared of. The Compact is a way of doing things the right way and committing to continue to do so.

Things might be working well now, but how can you be sure that will always be the case?

Signing up to and using the Compact is about standing behind something which has a clearly defined role, a recognised purpose, and which is supported across the country and by central government. It   goes beyond being just a list of activities – it has a sense of spirit and an approach to working in partnership which people can understand and respond to, without ever needing to read a case study or action plan.

‘Is the Compact still relevant?’

Yes! More now than ever: especially during these times of austerity and funding cuts.

At a time when VCS organisations are increasingly being relied upon to deliver public services, the Compact can help to ensure a level playing field, encourage open and honest dialogue across sectors and establish a foundation for these relationships that ensures both sectors are treated fairly.

No such thing as a silly question

These are just a few of the questions I’ve been asked recently. This blog could easily turn into an endless list of them – but my point is, we want you to ask questions, if in doubt: ask.

We also want to include your questions in the ‘Compact Voice says’ of the Compact Voice website, in case other people are thinking the same thing.

We will be updating this section with your questions – so, no matter how daft or irrelevant you think a question may be, just ask! That is what we are here for.

Get in touch with us with any Compact questions at compact@compactvoice.org.uk, or leave a comment below.





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