Headlines: November 3rd, 2003

The Voluntary and Community Sector and Government are this week celebrating five years of their agreement, known as The Compact, which is designed to improve their relationship. Events will be being held during the week to encourage engagement with the Compact and Codes of Good Practice, to celebrate successes achieved so far and to look at the challenges that lie ahead.The week will see the launch of a Compact Pledge Card, which sets out key undertakings for both Government and the Voluntary and Community Sector. It involves both sides promising to promote the Compact and work together to improve outcomes for the community. There will also be a summit for Chief Executives of national charities hosted by the Compact Working Group and Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations under the title ‘Making the Compact Work for You’.

Examples of successes so far which are being highlighted this week include the proposed Concordat between the Department of Health, the NHS and the voluntary sector aimed at maximising the sector’s contribution to a genuinely patient- centred service delivery; the commitment by York City Council to publish an annual directory of funding available to local VCS officers; fostering of strong working relationships between the voluntary and public sectors in Watford, including community involvement in the planning and building of a new Fire Station and the resolution of funding issues between One Voice Network steering Group and Durham County Council, guaranteeing ongoing support for adult and community learning projects in the county.

Speaking in support of Compact Week, Tony Blair said the introduction of the Compact in 1998 underlined the Government’s recognition of the valuable contribution made by voluntary and community organisations in many walks of public life and he congratulated all those people who had worked to develop the Compact since then.

Sir Michael Bichard, Chair of the Compact Working Group, said the Compact had already improved relations and mutual understanding locally and nationally and this week would help to ensure that these benefits were better known. It would also be an opportunity for the few remaining Councils who have not yet committed to developing on Compact to do so.