The second installment in the Top Tips series is all about working with community groups.
Working with community groups
Community groups appreciate talking about something new, not commonplace topics such as crime or litter. Bringing big names into local communities is great for community esteem. It is important to be as non-preachy as possible, especially with topics such as public health.
Ensure that community groups are involved from the outset; for residents to ‘buy in’ to the project it is important to get different groups involved at early stages of the project. Provide as many chances to share knowledge as possible.
Form relationships with local community organisations and community leaders that work long-term with the audiences you want to reach. If budget allows, employ an outreach worker to help with recruitment, especially if your project takes place in a different location from where the organisers are based. Make contact early as community groups need time to build trust with your organisation and work on building on their existing activities in a manner in which they find welcome.
Make links with community groups that are local to your event location
If you are encouraging people to attend who may not normally, try and remove any barriers that may prevent people from attending – we had a crèche at one workshop and paid for child-minding at another workshop. We also booked and paid for a taxi for one participant who was on crutches and paid for an interpreter who could translate everything into Portuguese for those who didn’t speak English. We also made a contribution towards loss of earnings.
What will you do afterwards? For the visitors that you attract on the day, what is the next step for them in your new relationship? Where possible, provide opportunities to input into current consultations, so that participants can see that their views are important to the democratic process
If you are not used to large numbers of visitors on certain days, think about your operations. Do you need to consider different facilities (e.g. Halal food, prayer rooms)?
Local Nature Reserve/Parks and community led facilities (e.g. village halls) are good venues for running events as they often have room facilities at very reasonable rates (sometimes at no charge), and the staff are usually very helpful.