Developing a Communication and Engagement Strategy and Plan for Dudley Health and Wellbeing Board - some thoughts It feels as though the task of developing a Communication and Engagement Strategy and associated plan is similar to one which some officers in Dudley were involved in between 2007 and 2009; developing a Comprehensive Community Engagement Strategy for Dudley Community Partnership. Jody Pritchard and I led on this work, with Leighton Pendry, who then worked in Dudley MBCâ€™s Chief Executive's Team. We found this guide on Developing Your Comprehensive Community Engagement Strategy useful: http:// www.navca.org.uk/publications/cces While the context is slightly different, and some of the policy areas have shifted since a change in government, I think there is still merit in looking at the guide. For example, to paraphrase the introduction (which, interestingly, focused on improving wellbeing): Health & Wellbeing Board partners are all committed to engaging with service users and empowering their communities. With less top down regulation, communities, councillors and partners can work together to improve wellbeing, guided by local priorities and a shared sense of what matters locally. As the guide suggests, in any given local authority area there are a wide range of engagement practices, undertaken by different partners and services, and organised by neighbourhood or theme. There is a need to streamline and co-ordinate community engagement and a number of areas are already working on a joint approach.
Dudleyâ€™s joint approach to community engagement In Dudley have developed that joint approach - it is now called engaging together: an empowering approach to engaging communities. We have since significantly invested organisational resources in the approach, and used it in strategies, plans and programmes of work. â€˘ Between January 2010 and January 2013 we filled 348 places on engaging together training sessions, delivered by a group of officers from Public Health and CCG (then Dudley PCT), Dudley CVS, and Dudley MBC. We also had a total attendance of 254 officers and volunteers across 9 Community Engagement Network events during that period.
• To date we have developed and delivered 12 different community engagement courses, some have been run a number of times. We reviewed our offer with officers in January and have been adding to it - we are launching new sessions on using social media in community engagement, and Dudley CCG have invested £10,000 towards the development of an online learning progaramme, we need a further £3,000 to buy in to Learning Pool for two years - which will enable us to access courses others have written too. An A3 handout (http://issuu.com/lornaprescott/docs/ a3_engaging_together_poster_2007-2013) provides an overview of how this joint approach led to a shared training and support programme which was launched in January 2010 and has underpinned a raft of activities since 2011. Since the handout was produced we could add Healthwatch Dudley’s approach (as described in the tender from Dudley CVS) and Dudley CCG’s approach (as detailed in their Communication and Engagement Strategy). See also Further Information at the end of this paper for details of background information available.
Some benefits of a co-ordinated and strategic approach to community engagement • It can connect councillors, community and citizen engagement and partnership decision making. It can commit all partners to work with each other and with communities to empower local people and improve local outcomes. • It starts from the perspective of the locality and the people who live in the area, not from the perspective of separate organisations or services. • It enables engagement about local aspirations, issues and improvements that require joined up working by partners and communities. • It is a framework that enables partners to bring together their community engagement work and plans
from Developing Your Comprehensive Community Engagement Strategy
Good arguments for a joined-up local approach to community empowerment In this document http://www.thinklocalactpersonal.org.uk/_library/BCC/ Building_Community_Capacity_-_Evidence_efficiency_and_cost-effectiveness.pdf which draws on around 50 sources of evidence and focuses on the benefits to health and social care of developing social capital with empowering approaches , Catherine Wilton suggests that the evidence provides good arguments for a joined-up local approach to community empowerment. 2
Next steps to support Dudley Health and Wellbeing Board - some ideas I think it is worth revisiting some fundamental questions in relation to our joint approach, for a number of reasons which include that the context and organisational landscape has shifted significantly since we started working on engaging together, and it will enable people who weren’t part of the discussions before to get involved in shaping this. A key question I think we should use is: what is engagement? There are almost as many definitions and terms in use as there are partners and policy makers. There is particular confusion about the terms ‘engagement’, ‘empowerment’, ‘participation’ and ‘consultation’. We will need to: • Agree which terms and definitions are going to be used to avoid confusion and misunderstandings within the Health & Wellbeing Board partners. • Be consistent in our language and be clear with residents about what they can expect. I’d also like have some conversations with a view to refreshing the way we framed the empowering approach in relation to Wilcox’s Ladder of Participation to reflect more contemporary and emerging approaches, including moving from the focus on participation in partnership structures to more a of a focus on co-production (be that the involvement of citizens and/or voluntary and community sector in policy making and/or public service delivery). This feels important given what our Health & Wellbeing Strategy says about responsibilities everyone has, and the asset based approaches it supports. We might wish to establish where Dudley Health & Wellbeing Board and each of the partners are at in terms of: 1. Their attitudes, aspirations and practice in relation to engagement. 2. Current performance. 3. Existing activities and structures. 4. The amount of money and other resources invested in engagement across the locality. This will help to shape the Communication and Engagement Strategy and identify the priorities for co-operation and how the Strategy and related plan will support delivery of the Health & Wellbeing Strategy. I think a key thing to disentangle is whether the Board itself should be ‘doing’ any engaging (if so, for what purpose), or whether the joint strategy and plan is about how partners undertake their engagement in relation to an agreed shared approach and relate it to the H&W Strategy and Board. What do others think are first steps?
Getting a sense of what we’re producing In terms of structuring things, a Communication and Engagement Strategy might include sections such as (from the aforementioned guide): 1. Shared values and principles 2. Agreed targets and priorities 3. Roles and responsibilities 4. Shared resources 5. Shared learning 6. Shared information 7. Multi-partner structure 8. Co-ordinated support for the community sector 9. Joint engagement activities And a Strategic Engagement Plan might include sections on (from training I’ve done with Kaizen Partnership on Strategic Engagement Models): 1. High level targets, goals and resources e.g. engagement team resources (skills, knowledge and attitude) and other resources available 2. Motivation (what are key motivators for people and how can we use them?) 3. Context and Background 4. Resources available 5. Barriers and challenges 6. Network factors 7. Process and promotion (re. engagement of partners and of participants) 8. Managing and Measuring I’m very happy to share information and experience I have around this sort of activity, and help in any way to bring people together to develop a strategy and plan which takes in to account the perspectives, needs and aspirations of different stakeholders. I recognise that the focus of this paper, and my work, is around community engagement and not communications as a separate discipline. Helen Ashford and I didn’t find any hinderance with this when we worked on Dudley CCG’s Communication and Engagement Strategy, as Laura Broster was able to bring specific communication input. Such input will be needed for the Health & Wellbeing Board work too, and I am confident that there are officers with the appropriate skills and knowledge who will contribute that. Lorna Prescott, Senior Development Officer, Dudley CVS 20 August 2013 07501 722255 firstname.lastname@example.org twitter: @dosticen 4
The following archive publications in relation to Dudley’s joint approach to community engagement are available (NB initially called in it together, later changed to engaging together) The work began in 2007 with a Community Engagement Working Group. The Working Group developed a discussion and consultation document (at that time called in it together) and related resources and hosted a range of activities. Discussion and consultation document and resources • in it together: a proposal for an empowering approach to engaging, discussion and consultation document • A1 poster showing the Dudley Community Partnership structure in 2008 • A1 poster describing community, voluntary and faith sector networks in Dosti in 2008 Related background briefings: • 1. How this proposal was developed about the Community Engagement Working Group • 2. Definitions exploring the terms community, community engagement and community empowerment • 3. Our motivations for engaging from a community perspective and a policy perspective • 4. Why we need to improve our approach perceptions gathered by Working Group members • 5. The benefits of engaging for communities, for local partnerships, for organisations and agencies • 6. Actions proposals for 5 key steps forward in Dudley in relation to community engagement • 7. Consultation on the proposals how to respond to the discussion and consultation document, questions to consider, and consultation workshops hosted in summer and autumn 2008 Feedback reports • In it together: consultation feedback summary a 6 page summary of the key findings from discussions with 250 people • In it together: full consultation feedback a full consultation feedback report (23 pages) • Dudley Community Partnership Board Nov 2008 in it together paper containing 9 recommendations to take work forward A strategy in 4 pages: • Community engagement strategy approved by the Dudley Community Partnership Board in November 2008 Developing a training and support package A Community and Training task and finish group met in the first few months of 2009 and developed a series of ideas to check more widely. Three workshops were run in August 2009, involving 92 people from a range of organisations in Dudley. • Workshop Findings and Feedback – a summary from all three workshops • Workshop Notes 5 August 2009 • Workshop Notes 10 August 2009 • Workshop Notes 20 August 2009 A Practitioner’s Approach Produced to accompany the Understanding Engagement training course. • A Practitioner’s Approach 5