We know that community engagement isn’t easy
We know that because it’s something we do in our roles, and some of us also manage people who work with communities.
Organisations want communities, groups and individuals to know about their services, be involved in decisions to shape or improve services, perhaps even deliver services together. Community engagement is still high on the agenda for most organisations and partnerships. New ideas, demands and jargon are emerging. We are being asked to collaborate, and perhaps even co-produce services with people who access them.
We know that things are getting even harder
People have told us that challenges they and their teams face in relation to community engagement are:
- Having fewer resources now than previously
- A perception that engagement is a luxury
- Having the confidence to engage communities, and a good enough hook
- Knowing how to develop trust and relationships, finding people who can support you and making sure you don’t duplicate effort
We know that free training and support is important and it can make a difference
Over the last four years we have developed 12 different training courses and delivered them to nearly 400 officers and volunteers. We also host Community Engagement Network events three times a year, nearly 300 people have taken part in these so far. Feedback and evaluation from these activities highlight the value of bringing people together from different teams and organisations, the importance of developing confidence by learning how to do practical things and by reflecting on practice.
We estimate that we have helped organisations in Dudley to save over £30,000 in training costs by investing our own time in delivering support.
No-one asked us to do this
We do it because we found out during some research that many officers and volunteers aren’t confident about their community engagement skills and can find the prospect of engagement quite scary. Often people don’t know who else is doing related or similar work.
Lorna Prescott. Senior Development Officer at Dudley CVS
Jody Pritchard, Public Health Programme Manager at The Office of Public Health
Donna Roberts, Research & Intelligence Officer at Dudley Council, seconded to Dudley CVS
Helen Ashford, Community Engagement Advisor, Dudley Clinical Commissioning Group
Nicki Burrows, Children’s Development Officer at Dudley CVS
Kat Lafferty, Community Safety Team at Dudley Council