Beginners Guide to Community Consultation
If only life was as simple as lining up lego figures and deploying them to undertake duties that would benefit society.
Unfortunately, life isn’t so straightforward. It's taken people a long time to buy back into the community involvement aspect of society, years of urban sprawl and fast paced living left us isolated and not integrating with others. Fostering a culture of communication is necessary but we often hit stumbling blocks early on. We forget that the consultor and consulted both stand to gain from the conversation. New levels of expertise can be reached because, believe it or not, everyone has something to contribute.
Community consultation can take place for many reasons, starting from facilitating economic development in the area to the creation of jobs. Creating an overall strategic plan needs high levels of public input so how do we begin?
Often people want to contribute to local authorities, public bodies or independent consultation groups but may not feel comfortable getting involved for a number of reasons. For the most part, it can come down to feeling afraid, unaware their contribution is necessary or perhaps they don't believe the pros outweigh the cons? Engaging the public is the first obstacle in many community consultations processes due to this.
Making the consultation process meaningful doesn’t require an outrageous amount of work on behalf of the consultor. Ensure the public are involved from the beginning and this lets them know that they aren’t merely a means to an end. Their contribution matters and this can be conveyed to them through door to door canvassing and follow-up letters or emails.
Canvassing is a great way to get in front of the public and an immediate way to engage them in your project. Starting early means that even with a small team, you can hit numerous doors and are guaranteed feedback. You can then follow up with the people you have successfully reached out to through emails, texts, phone calls or brochures. Saving all the contact information for the houses you have visited is invaluable for the rest of your consultation.
Now you have got their attention, it’s time to get to work. Once a conversation has begun, you need to begin planning. Collecting and analyzing the information that has been gathered will only empower the public further, it will grow a sense of ownership, support, and legitimacy.
Collaboration can be as simple as holding roundtable talks with elected representatives from each concerned party. Making sure there is a greater understanding between all involved is essential and allows the planning to progress smoothly. Conducting the meetings by recording minutes, attendance, priorities all allow for greater transparency.
Depending on the scale of your operation, the methods you use for community consultation may vary accordingly. Here a few suggestions:
- Telephone hotline
- Public Meetings
- Community Events
- Open Day Information sessions
- Focus groups
If you want to learn more about how Voxcitio can help you with community consulation, why not click the button below: