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Understanding Public Participation Networks

Public Participation Networks are relatively new frameworks that have been installed in various counties and cities across Ireland. They are made up of County Councils, Municipal districts and even College and University Boards. They have been implemented to encourage public engagement and participation. It will allow individuals to take formal and active roles in policy making.

The PPN will be the main link through which the local authority connects with the community, voluntary and environmental sectors without prejudice to other consultation processes. The benefits of having a PPN are threefold : it will help with the sharing of information, capacity building, and better representation.

Information Sharing

It is through the PPN where you can find information on relevant funding and grants you may apply for. It will also be much easier to share news and other activities about your organization through the Network communities. Access to information on decisions and proposals being made within the PPN will also be available.

Capacity Building

Networks like this include access to training events and capacity building which aims to support organizations in the area. Like most networks, the opportunity to build new working relationships will be guaranteed off spin.

Representation

You have a greater ability to comment & give an input on decisions & proposals that occur. The opportunities to become part of a linkage group which is a group of member stakeholder organizations also increases. Through linkage group representatives on key Committees & Boards, your views will be heard on local policy. There is also a greater opportunity to nominate members to sit on Boards or Committees or to become an elected PPN representative.

Leading To A Cohesive Society

The Network:

Facilitates the participation and representation of communities in a fair, equitable and transparent manner through the environmental, social inclusion & voluntary sectors on decision-making bodies.

The aim of these networks is to strengthen the capacity of communities and of the environmental, social inclusion, community & voluntary groups to contribute positively to the community in which they reside.

While the Public Participation Network is the name given to this setup in Ireland, variations of the system exist in mainland Europe also.

Social Networks for Local Employment

The SOLE project exist within many EU member states and aims to foster the link between citizens and their European institutions!

It potentially unites different members of societies towards shared objectives about the future, with common ideals and values. It is also one essential gain from democracy in Europe: with it, they have the power to express themselves through the vote, and they have a series of rights and freedoms attached to it.

The more aware and active at local and transnational level citizens are, the more they are able to own our future. Step by step, they have the opportunity of shaping and modeling European citizenship, an everyday-changing concept which no one knows what it will look like in 20 years.

One important issue is to feel like a European citizen, that is to say, to be a member of a community bigger than the restrictive circles of our family, friends, colleagues.

Indeed, SOLE is widely focused on participation through civil society organizations (CSO’s), and local public institutions.

By civil society, they intend all non-lucrative and non-governmental organization or movements. These can enhance participative democracy, mobilization, information, empowerment: features of active citizenship. Local authorities have the responsibility of the designing and implementation of public policies, including those promoting active European citizenship and participation.

The Networks Main Role From An Irish Perspective

In particular, the role of the Network is:

1. To contribute to the local authority’s development for the County/City and to have a vision for the well-being of this and future generations.

2. To facilitate opportunities for networking, communication and the sharing of information between environmental, community and voluntary groups and between these groups and the local authority.

  1. To identify issues of collective concern and work to influence policy locally in relation to these issues.

  2. To actively support the inclusion of socially excluded groups, communities experiencing high levels of poverty, communities experiencing discrimination, including Travelers to enable them to participate at local and county level and to clearly demonstrate same.

  3. To encourage and enable public participation in local decision-making and planning of Services.

  4. To facilitate the selection of participants from the environmental, social inclusion and voluntary sectors onto city/county decision-making bodies.

  5. To support a process that will feed the broad range of ideas, experience, suggestions and proposals of the Network into policies and plans being developed by agencies and decision makers in areas that are of interest and relevant to the Network.

  6. To work to develop the Environmental, Social Inclusion, Community and Voluntary sectors so that the work of the sectors is clearly recognized and acknowledged and the sectors have a strong collective voice within the County/City.

  7. To support the individual members of the Public Participation Network so that:

  • They can develop their capacity and do their work more effectively.

  • They can participate effectively in the Public Participation Network activities.

  • They are included and their voices and concerns are heard.

The Relevance of Tech

For networks such the PPN and Project SOLE, citizen engagement is the number one priority but it can be very hard to achieve stress-free. Civis Connect steps into this space to offer all the tools you need to scale up one-to-one relationships.

Starting either with a database of citizens or with a blank slate, organizations can build a database of citizens and map them out for easy visualization and management. Citizen surveys, data collection, and issue tracking allow even a very small team to conduct extensive citizen engagement on an ongoing basis.

Considering a technology intervention nowadays isn't as scary as it once was and when done right, technology can have a huge impact on citizen participation.

If you want to learn more about how Voxcitio can help you with Citizen Engagement, why not get in touch below:

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