Accreditation – a CRP’s point of view

29 Jul, 2019

Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership (ESSCRP), were one of the first community rail partnerships to work through the Department for Transport’s new community rail accreditation process and be awarded accredited status. ESSCRP chair, Jayne Sumner explains how the CRP approached the accreditation and the processes involved. As rail engagement manager, Jayne leads the rail development work at Essex County Council and looks after the day to day management of the community rail team.

Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership  was formed in 1998.  It has six branch lines and forty-two branch line stations.

Only one of the six lines was designated under the old designation process. The new accreditation process was a way of getting recognition for the CRP rather than just one branch line.

The process started in December 2018. It was a little over whelming at first as always when tackling something you haven’t done before. As a CRP we were offered support from Paul Webster, the operations officer at ACoRP, he met with us and talked us through the process.

Armed with an accreditation process tick list with time scales, the process seemed straight forward. Stage one and two were a matter of arranging meetings and briefing people on the process.  Stage three was more involved as it involved supplying your annual CRP report along with financial accounts, project budget, governing documents and policies, terms of reference and minutes from the last twelve months steering group meetings. I had all of these documents in some form, so it was just a case of presenting them to Paul from ACoRP.

What I didn’t realise was how time consuming it would be to get the polices together.  I work for a local authority (Essex County Council), and within that role manage ESSCRP, this made the process a little easier as I used the polices held by Essex County Council.  If your CRP is not connected to a Local Authority or similar you will have to have the following policies in place:

  • Health and safety policy
  • Equal opportunities – diversity & inclusion policy
  • Working with children & young People / vulnerable adults policy
  • Volunteer management policy
  • Volunteer management policy
  • Complaints policy or procedure
  • Data protection & GDPR policy
  • Risk management policy
  • Risk management policy
  • Financial procedures and reserves policy

For me these policies were available but hidden within the local authority’s website so it took some time to retrieve. If your CRP doesn’t have these documents then it will take time to produce them, but templates will be available on line and once produced you have them to support your CRP.

As a thriving CRP, we had a yearly activity plan in place, we were presented with a new template which wasn’t too different to our original plan layout, the new layout in fact  proved to be a great help showing exactly what our CRP does and the many activities it undertakes, we record everything we do and regularly keep it up dated.  Our own train operator has found the new activity plan much clearer and easier to keep up with what ESSCRP are doing. I must admit like everyone I didn’t like the thought of changing our activity plan, but it has proved to be a benefit to us.  It also shows our stakeholders our aims and objections and how our activities meet all of these.

Once all the evidence, policies, activity plan were in place and received by ACoRP, then it was a waiting game to see if we had received our accreditation.   Eventually we were awarded our accreditation on the 16 June 2019.

The process took time, longer than I thought but I think it was well worth it. We are now recognized as a good CRP and not only valued by the DfT, ACoRP, and our train operator Greater Anglia but we have also raised our profile within Essex County Council. In fact I have just had an email to inform us that the team has been nominated for team of the year within Essex County Council.

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