Live chat: Engaging with local authorities

This live discussion is the second event in our series on local campaigning and influencing.

This live chat has finished – we’ll upload a summary later this week

Local authorities have undergone many changes in recent years – on one hand they have greater control of their finances, changing duties and more flexibility to innovate and develop services that better meet the needs of their communities, through the Localism agenda.

On the other, new agencies have been established adding complexity to local decision-making, and local authorities are experiencing continued cuts to their budgets, leading to restructures and upheaval in their organisations.

This has had a big impact on existing relationships and partnership working between the local public agencies and voluntary sector. We’ve put together a great expert panel to discuss some of the burning issues that voluntary organisations are most interested in:

  • making contact
  • building relationships
  • commissioning and procurement
  • public health and other local health agencies

 

Join us to get some of your questions answered and discuss these hot topics:

  • when it is best to approach an elected member or a council officer on an issue
  • how relationships can be formed or re-established when staff changes or an organisational restructure has taken place
  • how organisations can get involved in the commissioning process, and what new opportunities presented by the Social Value Act and new procurement regulations
  • how the duties for health are split between Local Authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups, and how they work together

Expert panel

Councillor Simon Wales – Lead Member for Finance, Assets & the Voluntary Sector, London Borough of Sutton

Simon is in his third term as a Councillor and has been the lead for the voluntary sector for five years. He has overseen the development of Sutton’s capacity building framework and developmental assets, and the Sutton Compact is two-time winner at Compact Voice’s national Compact Awards.

Simon also leads on commissioning development, and supports the Social Enterprise Forum, the Fairtrade committee, and is the Council’s champion for mental health and lead for the Council on the dementia action alliance.

Eshaan Akbar – Policy, Strategy and Partnerships Officer, Merton Council

Eshaan has been responsible for managing the corporate relationship with the voluntary sector in Merton since 2010. He has published the voluntary sector funding database and has played an important role in harnessing the relationship with the local community.

Eshaan is also a member of the Community Development Steering Group for Merton Priory Homes, the housing ALMO of Merton Council.

Racheal Jones – Social Growth Programme Manager, Knowsley CVS

Racheal develops and manages stakeholder relationships and business activity for Knowsley CVS. She has a private, public and voluntary sector professional background with 20 years’ experience working within social value organisations and communities across Merseyside. Racheal has extensive experience of developing, managing and evaluating socio-economic programmes, a particular interest in commissioning for social value, and developing and establishing cross sector partnerships, collaborations & consortia.

Join the discussion

Post your answers below for Simon, Eshaan and Racheal in the comments section and through Twitter or join us at 13.30 on Monday 16 March for a live chat with them.

This entry was posted in Practical support and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

89 Responses to Live chat: Engaging with local authorities

  1. Sam Newell says:

    Following Norwich’s pledge to the #iwill campaign (http://www.norfolk.gov.uk/Childrens_services/Activities_for_children_and_young_people/Step_up_to_Serve/index.htm) how best can we replicate this in Local Authorities across the UK?

  2. Eshaan Akbar says:

    Hello everyone!

    I have been managing the corporate relationship with the voluntary sector here in Merton since 2010 and, in that time, have had the pleasure of working with some of the very best people in our communities.

    I am happy to be here and hope to be able to answer your questions.

  3. Simon Wales says:

    Volunteer Centre Sutton and the Young Carers already involve large numbers of young people in Sutton. We have just had our youth parliament elections and are already responding to the request for Councillors to visit schools other than the ones where they are already governors.

    That said, more engagement with young people can only be a positive thing, and we will look at how our Children and Young People’s Learning Directorate can engage further with voluntary sector organisations in this area.

  4. Eshaan Akbar says:

    Hi Sam – that is a very interesting project and it’s good to see Norfolk have taken the lead.

    From a LB Merton perspective, we have a successful Youth Partnership which, in 2012, won the Compact Innovation Award. I would be happy to share your work with them to see if Merton will be interested in participating.

    Beyond that, I would suggest that having open lines of communication with departments and partnership groups that can take the lead on initiatives like this is the best way to ensure everyone gets involved – particularly in national campaigns like this.

  5. Simon Wales says:

    Just to introduce myself – I am Lead Member for Finance, Assets and the Voluntary Sector in the London Borough of Sutton. I have been proud to support our voluntary sector for the last five years, and we have achieved national compact awards in the last two years.

    Happy to respond to your questions!

  6. Neena Bhati says:

    Hello! Looking forward to the discussion today, great to see questions already coming in. Thanks Eshaan and Simon for introducing yourselves, Racheal please introduce yourself when you’re ready.

    • Just realised my introduction posted as just a hello! I’m Racheal Jones, Social Growth Programme Manager for Knowsley CVS in the borough of Knowsley. As a CVS we are leading on new models of strategic relationships and sector support and development to inspire local community and voluntary action.

  7. Eshaan Akbar says:

    Simon – it is nice to see South West London representing!

  8. Hi all,

    One of the things that I often hear from charities I meet is that they want to engage with local authorities but they don’t know who to turn to. Some local authorities have a ‘sector-lead’ to act as a main point of contact, but do you think that this is something that every local authority should have or some sort of area of their website for charities to be able to access contact details depending on which service area they would like to discuss?

    What is best practice in your experience?

    • Simon Wales says:

      Hi Andrew – it is hard to proscribe because different things work well in different areas. However, we are very pleased to maintain extremely strong links in Sutton, supporting the Community Fund, maintaining the Compact etc etc despite the cutbacks in funding. We have always had a senior councillor in the role I have now – my two immediate predecessors have gone on to become leader of the council!!

    • Lev Pedro says:

      Andrew, in my experience, i feel the vol sec should be proactive, and I would expect a local CVS to broker these kind of relationships

    • Hi Andrew

      I believe every locality requires sector leadership, whether this is a local infrastructure, CVS, Social Enterprise Network, VCA, Volunteer Centre etc… but it needs to be relevant and meet the needs of the locality. One size does not fit all, leadership that is not mandated but based on the knowledge, relationships with and impact the sector has is key. I don’t believe that a static website, directory or signposting vehicle is any substitute for indepth knowledge & relationships that enable signposting and connections into LA’s.

      • Elaine Cooper says:

        Based on the local intelligence we get from front-line groups and infrastructure bodies, I recognise what both Simon and Racheal are saying – there is no one-size-fits-all answer and seeking out who in the sector is already leading on or at least having some success with this is good first step.

        The other thing that is useful is being clear about what you want or need from your local authority and what you can offer. We often hear that it can be hard to “make the case” – we’ve put some ideas to get you thinking about this in one of our free guidance notes: “Guidance: The case for statutory sector support for local Compacts”. http://www.compactvoice.org.uk/sites/default/files/case_for_a_local_compact_statutory.pdf

  9. Lev Pedro says:

    Just checking in and looking forward to the discussion. I’m based at NCVO.

  10. Neena Bhati says:

    Since Eshaan and Simon are at the ready, it would be great to kick off with the first question and get your thoughts – when do you make contact with the council, and when would a local councillor want to hear from you?

    • Simon Wales says:

      In my experience, a local councillor would be happy to hear from an organisation at any time. A ward councillor can be a great champion for a VCO in their specific area, and I know many of my colleagues have links with organisations from before they were councillors even!

      • Neena Bhati says:

        Thanks Simon, that’s great to hear! Is there a “best” way to contact elected members? e.g. specific method (email, letter, phone) and type of info you need…?

        • Eshaan Akbar says:

          I’ll add something here if I may.

          The “best” way to contact depends entirely on the kind of relationship that has been cultivated and how a councillor prefers to be contacted.

          Depending on the issue/conversation, most things can be discussed and resolved over the phone. But, where it is in the interests of all parties to be sighted on discussions taking place, it is important to have the kind of infrastructure I have set out below to ensure transparency and ease of communication.

          Of course, whilst this definitely works for Merton, it may not be the solution everywhere else. Talking to one another is a good start!

        • Simon Wales says:

          I guess email is best – we can then respond at midnight or whenever we are free! All our email addresses are on the Council website, and follow a standard format! We also have advertised ‘surgeries’ for ward based issues.

        • A large number of our community in Knowsley is digitally excluded, so emailing councillors is not always an option, however local surgeries are popular, based in neighbourhoods councillors are available to see residents and hear concerns, they are promoted locally especially through word of mouth.

  11. Simon Wales says:

    Hi Eshaan – it’s great to share good practice. I’ve recently been to see the Merton Dementia Hub, and am working with our CVS and Volunteer Centre to transfer a council building in Carshalton for a voluntary sector hub to rival the Vestry! And the building alongside this to Ecolocal for a green hub!

  12. Eshaan Akbar says:

    As a Council, we have established strong lines of communication that encourage seamless contact between us and the voluntary sector.

    For example, our Compact Board is chaired and deputy-chaired by elected Members; our Health and Wellbeing Board is chaired by an elected member; and as part of their induction training, councillors receive a presentation from our local CVS.

    As you can see, elected Members are a big part of our infrastructure with the voluntary sector. It is not uncommon for our CVS and other voluntary groups to speak directly to elected Members to raise issues that are considered by the relevant Board.

    • Simon Wales says:

      I fought hard to have two VCS reps on our Health and Wellbeing Board, as well as the two from Healthwatch, one of whom is vice chair. The HWB is chaired by the leader, and includes the lead Councillors for adult and children’s services, and always welcomes VCOs or other councillors with relevant experience to the conversations. The latest one had a mental health focus, so i was there as MH Champion, as well as representatives of the Sutton Mental Health Foundation.

    • In Knowsley as a CVS, we are actively brokering new relationships between the LA, wider stakeholders and the social sector, for example, historically CVS was mandated to sit on the Knowsley Child Safeguarding Board. We have advocated and supported a Sector organisation who is an expert in such matters to attend on behalf of the sector. As a CVS we support them to then report back to their peers & also enable their peers to interact with them to take key issues to meetings.

  13. Eshaan Akbar says:

    Simon – and everyone else reading – rivalry is an excellent way to ensure the sector and the council are working together to constantly improve!

  14. Lev Pedro says:

    About relationships with councillors — is this tricky ground? – I’ve seen cases where elected members have their own pet charities that they like to support, and there is a tendancy for them to overrule officers’ commmissioning or grant-giving decisions. This can really undermine good grant or commissioning processes.

    • Eshaan Akbar says:

      Lev – that is a good point and one worth being mindful of.

      We have found that having councillors across a range of Boards with representation across the political parties have a tendency to self-regulate.

      Every meeting asks specifically for Declarations of Interest on particular items and I have seen councillors leave the room when a specific discussion item is being discussed, should there be any conflict of interest.

      • Eshaan Akbar says:

        I will also add that commissioning and grant-giving should have robust processes underlined by an agreement signed by all parties.

        I understand we will discuss commissioning and procurement at a later stage in this discussion but, for now, we have found that having a voluntary sector observer on each funding panel is a particularly useful way of ensuring complete transparency. And, again, ahead of the funding panel discussion, Declarations of Interest are stated – you will be surprised how quickly internal audit can pick up any discrepancies!

      • That model sounds interesting Eshaan, however in Knowsley (as in other area’s), it is a single party, hence this model could not be used.

        • Eshaan Akbar says:

          I think we’ve found that the key thing is to have a voluntary sector representative at the very least and, where possible, each Board stipulates that a representative from the two biggest parties should be Chair and Vice-Chair.

          • Simon Wales says:

            We only have two parties – 45 of us and 9 opposition members, some of whom are as involved in VCOs as the majority party councillors!

    • I too have unfortunately seen this in practice. We believe charities and sector organisations should be independent from the politics in the locality, we historically have had a disportionate number of elected members on boards, the LA has funded them and then they sit on the boards from a position of scrutiny? We need to change this dynamic, it’s an inherent conflict of interest that can hinder local community and voluntary action.

    • Simon Wales says:

      I would encourage my councillor colleagues to have their say, but ultimately it is officers who run the commissioning process. This is completely open, and involves all interested parties. I would also encourage colleagues with a ‘pet charity’ in need of funds to direct them to the Sutton Community Fund which is supported by the Council to the tune of £100,000 a year, administered by the CVS and with a panel of three from the LA, three from the sector and three from local businesses.

      • Eshaan Akbar says:

        Similarly at Merton, we have a Small Grants Fund administered by our CVS which, in turn, will ask for a council representative as an observer when they are discussing funding options.

  15. Hi all,

    I wonder how panelists feel about campaigning by charities on local issues, which may involve decisions made by the local authority, when they may have received grants or contracts from that local authority?

    Obviously at a central government level there have been concerns and we saw in the Work Programme the introduction of ‘gagging clauses’ for some providers.

    What is best practice on balancing campaigning and receiving funding? How do you feel about charities campaigning locally whilst receiving funding from a local authority?

    • Eshaan Akbar says:

      Hi Andrew,

      I think it is to be expected that charities will campaign to a) raise awareness of their particular issue and b) [of course!] to maximise their chances of getting money.

      However, it is important that robust funding application processes are set in place to ensure complete transparency. This means being clear about the criteria for funding, what kind of outcomes are expected and having a scoring method that ensures complete transparency and measures appropriateness for that particular funding stream.

      There have been numerous instances where long-standing successful voluntary and community sector organisations (VCSOs) have been unsuccessful with particular applications despite some strong campaigning on the basis that they may not have met the criteria for funding as well as other applicants.

      Councils or anyone else cannot stop groups campaigning and nor should they; but they do have control over who they fund, how they fund them and, perhaps most importantly, why they have chosen to fund them. That is important.

    • I agree with Simon, robust and mature relationships with the LA and appropriate challenge from the social sector is key. Knowsley has a significant number of organisations funded directly by the LA. I have examples of organisations that create challenge in policy, and have done for several years that the LA invests in, but I would argue investment has to be proportionate to impact created (to benefit residents). We as a sector just need to be clear that we challenge social policy!

  16. Simon Wales says:

    Hi Andrew – an interesting one! I am one of two council observers on the local CAB Board and it is an issue which has exercised them. They are commissioned by the LA to provide information and advice services, but actively campaign on housing, benefits and many other social issues. We have a robust but mature relationship, and I would never seek to limit their campaigning with threats over their LA funding.

    • Neena Bhati says:

      What should an organisation do if they feel their future funding is at risk due to speaking out in their campaigning work?

      • Simon Wales says:

        Speak to the lead for the sector, or if there isn’t one, then the Leader! As a commissioning council, it is clear to all how our commissioning process works, what the criteria are for the award of a commission, and what the outcomes are and how they are to be measured. The only threat to funding should be failure to deliver on the agreed outcomes, and even then we would look at the reasons for this and work with the organisation to improve its performance.

      • Eshaan Akbar says:

        Neena – in terms of our relationship with the VCS, we are confident that we do not operate in that way. As I have said, we have robust application processes with strict criteria communicated in way that ensures all groups who wish to make an application are able to do so.

        However, in the unlikely event that a situation like this should arise, the infrastructure we have in place with the sector will ensure this gets raised early enough to be addressed. For example, a particular group can speak to our CVS, the representatives could raise it directly with the Chair of the relevant Board or at the relevant Board meeting.

        The key is to ensure groups feel able to speak out and an open, transparent culture, cultivated through relationships and readily available information, ensure this is made possible.

      • They should speak with their infrastructure for advice, but in my experience campaigning in itself does not create risk to funding. Organisations governance, delivery and impact are all factors that create risk, alongside voice & challenge…

  17. Neena Bhati says:

    There are lots of new opportunities in commissioning and procurement, with the social value act and new procurement regulations – how can organisations make the most of this and get involved in local commissioning?

    • Lev Pedro says:

      In training that I do, I make sure that charities are aware that they can influence commissioning at various stages, and especially the pre-procurement stage. They don;t always know this. i encourage them to find out about any market development meetings etc, and always go along when it relates to their work. Again I see the local CVS as making sure the sector knows about these.

      • Simon Wales says:

        Lev – I agree. We have market days for feedback on likely commissioned services – the one we had on our information and advice commission had an attendance of 40 organisations, and comments were fed back into the final commissioning document.

      • I’m also delivering a social value training session today… sector organisation need ever increasing support to both understand the act, it’s context & application in localities and most importantly the social impact and social value that they contribute to the local economy. I feel the roles of infrastructure, locally, regionally and nationally are key in communicating not just information about the act, but to support organisations to be able to evidence and articulate this for themselves, to wider stakeholders and to commissioners and social investors

    • Eshaan Akbar says:

      This is partly about culture and partly about cultivating that culture.

      Councils and the VCS should consider social value as a matter of course – broadly speaking, we are all trying to work together to do the best for our residents resulting in a positive impact on social value. The Act itself sets in stone the necessity for us to consider it whilst being mindful of our “Value for Money” expectations.

      It is important to recognise that local authorities and the voluntary sector are facing financial pressures which require us to work closer together. At Merton, we are holding an annual “Meet The Council” event where all interested providers, both businesses and VCSOs, are invited to better understand our procurement processes.

      The departments (Children, Schools and Families, Environment and Regeneration, Communities and Housing) have robust commissioning processes, which specifically require involvement of a voluntary sector representative when decisions are being made. Whilst it is to be expected that a VS representative would already be mindful of social value, having the Act ensures we can assess against the specific criteria expected.

      Further opportunities already exist through other initiatives, such as Apprenticeships, additional training from council experts to the voluntary sector and talks.

      • Lev Pedro says:

        I really like the idea of the ‘Meet the Council’ activity – this gives vol sec the chance to network and find out what’s happening without feeling they are being already interviewed.

        • Simon Wales says:

          Meet the Council is good, but an annual event may not be enough in a rapidly changing environment. I regularly attend and speak at voluntary sector forums run by the CVS, and also at Sutton Community Works ( a grouping of church organisations, engaged in activities such as Street Pastors, Foodbank etc).

          • Eshaan Akbar says:

            The “Meet the Council” is a specific event designed to inform and advise interested parties about our procurement processes so that they know where to look for opportunities with us.

            We have regular forums and an annual partnership conference where we discuss a particular theme that is of interest to the borough as a whole – the last two have been around “Growth” and “Health Inequalities”. In both instances, over 90 organisations across the public, private and VCS were engaged and continue to work together as a result of that networking.

            In 2013/14, Public Health and the Fire Service worked together to train fire safety officers to refer people who wanted to quit smoking in a quick and easy way. This has been extended to the police to train fire safety officers to recognise signs of domestic violence or drug abuse. In all three cases, VCS groups play a big part in ensuring support is available once an incident is raised. This has been the result of our conferences and their continued presence on relevant Boards.

      • Eshaan Akbar says:

        I would further add that the Merton Compact, already an example of fostering outstanding relationships between the sector and the council, already considers social value.

        We may look at specifically including criteria specified by the Social Value Act.

        http://www.merton.gov.uk/council/partnerships/compact.htm

      • In Knowsley we have a policy statement & a metrics of 6 outcomes and 29 indicators. I’m doing a lot of work locally with the sector around this agenda, today alone I have 7 additional viable indicators that could be used from the sector experts I am working with. Specific criteria is key (for transparency, enables measurement) BUT social value must be able evolve & grow over the life of the commissioning cycle

        • Simon Wales says:

          I am starting to insist that services which are still delivered from within the council, are subject to the same outcomes regime – this will help us with some difficult budget decisions over coming years. To be able to identify outcomes will help us to see which ones we can continue to afford, and to be able to measure the impact of not delivering that service if it has to cease entirely.

          • Eshaan Akbar says:

            That is very good – the council and the sector should be held accountable by the same standards.

          • Excellent… all expenditure of the public purse should be accounted for within the same framework of standards and impact. A great move in the right direction given the limitation of the act to give “consideration too”

  18. Simon Wales says:

    All our commissions are published on a commissioning portal to which everyone has access. Our Compact meetings regularly have updates on what is coming up – council commissioners and the procurement team always attend Compact. The Compact created our developmental assets, which is a framework for commissioners to use when assessing social value.

    https://www.sutton.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=24576&p=0

    We now have a voluntary sector consortium, which has been successful in at least two bids, and working on several more, including the care act delivery, which is a massive opportunity for the Council to do things differently.

  19. http://www.knowsley.gov.uk/PDF/social-value-model.pdf

    Knowsley also have a consortium as a sector response to the opening up of public sector services. Forward Together is a membership, sector owned consortium (still under 2 years old) and has secured public sector delivery of services (value £400K).

  20. Neena Bhati says:

    How are you as local authorities working with new local commissioning bodies, such as clinical commissioning groups?

    • Simon Wales says:

      In our case through the Health and Wellbeing Board. One Sutton is the group of CCG and council commissioners who together make commissioning decisions on the Better Care Fund, and any other joint funds available. The HWB also includes the Director of Public Health.

      http://www.thesuttonconsortium.nhs.uk/

    • As a CVS we have struggled to both understand, navigate, identify and establish relationships with the CCG. We have fantastic, productive relationships with our colleagues in LA public health. However in the past month the CCG have approached us directly to discuss how they progress their strategic planning to reach and engage with the social sector, we are the key link to enable this. Perhaps our experience shows that given the complexity of the CCG model in some localities as commissioners, they are looking (certainly locally for us) to their LA colleagues for guidance, so continuing to engage and have strong relationships with all stakeholders and social investors for this sector is important

  21. Eshaan Akbar says:

    We have Funding Officers Group that come together regularly to discuss funding to the voluntary sector. The group is made up of council officers responsible for funding to the voluntary sector, commissioners and voluntary sector representatives.

    The group discusses forthcoming commissioning cycles and the annual voluntary sector funding database. Bringing this group together allows us to iron out administrative issues, be transparent about opportunities for the sector and allows commissioners/officers to better understand the challenges faced by the sector as a whole.

    http://www.merton.gov.uk/community-living/vcs-support/vs-funding.htm

    • Elaine Cooper says:

      We have examples of successful cross-sector working with some of the new commissioning bodies on our website. There’s a case study on the voluntary sector working well with the PCC in West Yorkshire. One of the top tips in that is: “It’s essential to engage with local politicians when developing partnership working and applying Compact principles, and good to do this before elections. The third sector hustings event for PCC candidates laid a good foundation; the same could be done prior to other elections.” The full case study is here: http://www.compactvoice.org.uk/sites/default/files/compact_at_work_-_val_and_west_yorks_pcc.pdf

  22. Eshaan Akbar says:

    At Merton, we have a Health and Wellbeing Board and remained committed to partnership working even after LSP’s had been disbanded throughout the country. The integration of Public Health has meant we have been able to build stronger relationships between our partners, both voluntary and public, and Public Health/CCGs.

    The HWB Strategy and JSNA have input from partners to ensure depth in information and breadth in views.

    Merton Health and Wellbeing Board’s (HWB) full statutory responsibilities have now been in place since April 2013 and a Shadow Health and Wellbeing Board has been working in Merton since 2011.

    The HWB brings together the Council, Merton Clinical Commissioning Group, HealthWatch and the voluntary and community sector with a shared focus on improving the health and wellbeing in Merton.

    Merton Health and Wellbeing Board has 13 members with representatives from the Council, Merton Clinical Commissioning Group and strong representation from the voluntary and community sector.

    • Neena Bhati says:

      As there are so many different agencies dealing with public health duties, where does an organisation find out who to contact and when on particular issues?

      • I would always advise they go to the local infrastructure first. The value of CVS (and others) is that we bridge those relationships between local action and local policy and strategy. We are positioned to signpost, connect and support organisations to make supportive peer links (via networks, forums, 1:1 etc)

      • Eshaan Akbar says:

        I think the first port of call should be the HWB as that brings together a range of partners.

        It is also helpful for the Director of Public Health to be visible with the sector so that any specific issues can be raised directly and brought to the attention of relevant parties.

      • Simon Wales says:

        Now that public health has come back into the local authority sphere – the first port of call would be the Director of Public Health. She is co-ordinating efforts across all statutory authorities and voluntary bodies using our public health plan which is informed by the JSNA.

        https://www.sutton.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=18919

  23. Can I throw in another part of the jigsaw, Members of Parliament?

    Obviously a lot of MPs are keen local campaigners, and it can be difficult for charities to know when to go to their MP and when to go to their local councils on certain projects.

    Do you have any advice for charities when they are thinking about which stakeholders to work with in the local area and when they should approach them?

    • Eshaan Akbar says:

      I think organisations will have a handle on which particular stakeholder – MP or local councillor – has greater visibility within their organisation.

      In either case, the stakeholder in question will inevitably contact a member of the relevant partnership or, even if they contact a council officer, the advice would bring the issue to the attention of the relevant individual/group.

      As we speak to the sector so regularly, the lines of communication have already been established between key groups so information finds its way to the right person in the most efficient way. Representation helps.

    • Andrew, I’d suggest that all potential stakeholders are of value. Whether that is the MP, the local business or another local group. Charities and social sector organisations need to find the local and collective voice, this will only come from asking questions of identified stakeholders (including LA) and creating opportunities for wider stakeholders to join their campaign including the MP. I personally have seen various high profile campaigns in Knowsley, real momentum for all comes at the point when all stakeholders are talking about the issue and working together to address the issue.

  24. Neena Bhati says:

    We have just a few minutes left of this live chat – do the panelists have any last thoughts or tips to share with voluntary organisations on working with their local councils?

    • Elaine Cooper says:

      There are a lot of success stories out there on local authorities and the voluntary sector working in partnership. We try to write up case studies examining some of those stories and try to include elements that could be replicated and tried elsewhere. Do feel free to have a browse – there are 40+ case studies now and we add more when we can. http://www.compactvoice.org.uk/resources/case-studies

    • Eshaan Akbar says:

      My advice would be to encourage your councils to establish the kind of infrastructure that allows you to express your concerns and be a part of the psyche that helps do the best by the residents in your borough.

      Share examples of good practice that you think will work for your area and highlight areas where you can add value to the council’s aims, be it social value or anything else.

      But perhaps, most importantly, cultivate the relationships that ensure everyone is aware of your aspirations, how you can achieve them and how they will benefit from your expertise and input.

    • Present well organised evidence to address local need (case studies, evidence of why approaches work), LA’s are looking for increasingly innovative solutions within diminishing resources.. be clear about your role and contribution. Evidence the impact you will create and use the social value framework as a platform to frame your approach.

  25. Simon Wales says:

    Despite our council and 2 MPs being of the same party (since 1997), we have a quite clear divide that the Council deals with local issues and MPs national ones. MPs refer local issues to the ward councillors, and borough wide issues to the relevant lead members.

    Paul Burstow MP has been instrumental in setting up a local Dementia Action Alliance, and the Council along with many other local groups is represented.

  26. Simon Wales says:

    Final tip is engagement, engagement, engagement!

  27. Neena Bhati says:

    Brilliant discussion, everyone!

    Thanks to everyone for taking part and especially our panelists for answering our many questions. Please feel free to carry on the conversation and continue to use this forum to post your comments.

    We’ll be posting highlights of the discussion later this week, with a list of all the mentioned resources.

    This live Q&A is part of a series of live discussions on voluntary sector engagement with local actors, structures and policies.

  28. Engage in mature relationships… don’t forget it is about the communities and the residents we are here to support and serve. It’s about achieving the best possible outcomes for our communities… together !