At Work: Partnerships - Compact in action - Merton Voluntary Service Council

John Plummer

The London borough used the Compact to improve relations with the emergency services.

The challenge

In the London borough of Merton, charities have been trying to get the local emergency services to sign the local Compact. Last year the police signed up to the document. This year the fire service is doing likewise.

Merton unveiled its Compact in November 2004. At 12 pages, it is one of the shortest in the country. "We didn't want a glossy document sitting on a shelf - we wanted something small we could use," says Chris Frost, director of Merton Voluntary Service Council.

About 100 voluntary and public sector organisations signed the initial agreement, but the emergency services weren't among them, even though many voluntary organisations benefit from fire safety advice and want closer links with the police.

The action

To bring them under the Compact umbrella, the charity needed to convince the borough commanders of each service that the agreement had tangible benefits for them. It explained to the police that working with charities could be a fertile ground for recruiting Special Constables.

"They are also under pressure to work with more hard-to-reach groups, and we could help them achieve that," says Frost.

The outcome

The police said yes and since then have given the Voluntary Service Council £6,000 to fund research on the value of volunteering in Merton. "The results of the research have proved valuable for fundraising," says Frost.

The introduction of new fire safety legislation this year presented an opportunity to convince the fire service that it could deliver key messages through the sector. "We said it could do lots of free training for organisations by working with us," says Frost.

She says charities now have tighter relationships with both emergency services. "People think the police's only interest in the sector is through Neighbourhood Watch or community support, but they have become strong allies of the sector," she says. "The Compact has taken us to places we never thought it would go. It has been the vehicle that has improved community relations."

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in
RSS Feed

Third Sector Insight

Sponsored webcasts, surveys and expert reports from Third Sector partners

Third Sector Logo

Get our bulletins. Read more articles. Join a growing community of Third Sector professionals

Register now