Merton’s partnership working wins out

The Merton Compact – made up of Merton Council, NHS and Primary Care trusts, police, voluntary bodies and other agencies – has scooped a national Compact Excellence Award for its impact on successful partnership working.

Judges at the national award ceremony, held during Compact Week, praised the Merton Compact for its efforts in supporting increased volunteering, working together to improve the way voluntary groups access grant funding, and setting up INVOLVE, a network of community and voluntary agencies which work with Merton Council to give residents a more powerful voice.

The Merton Compact sets out expectations for the way that public agencies and the voluntary and community sector will work together to bring benefits to local people, for example by working together to access government funding that they cannot apply for alone.

A recent joint bid included Merton Adult Education, Merton Voluntary Service Council, St Mark’s Centre and the Commonside Community Development Trust who were awarded £111,000 from the Learning and Skills Council. This funding would not have been available to the council without support from the voluntary and community groups.

The cash is being used to enhance learning in deprived areas in the east of Merton, refurbishing classrooms at community and voluntary centres. Future funding will go towards providing adult education classes for residents facing financial difficulties, as well as problems due to disability, ethnicity, belief, sexuality, age or gender.

Chris Frost, chief executive of Merton Voluntary Services Council, said: “I am delighted we have won this award. Everyone involved worked extremely hard to secure the funding to improve adult education in the most deprived areas of Merton and this is a testament to all their efforts.”

Merton Council’s cabinet member for community safety and engagement Councillor Henry Nelless said: “I am very proud Merton Compact has won this award. There were some excellent examples from across the country of Compact partnerships working successfully together. For the Merton Compact to have therefore won such a prestigious award in such a competitive field shows how strong our partnership really is.

‘The principles contained in the Merton Compact shape the way we and our partners work on a day to day basis, as illustrated by the success of the joint bid between Merton Adult Education and the voluntary and community sector. This has brought about real improvements for learning in some of the most deprived parts of the borough and shows how we constantly strive to put the needs of our residents first.”