Strong, positive community engagement is vital to ensure that you are able to deliver the best possible service to your service users. During the process of finding out what communities think, you can gain valuable insight into what you are doing right and areas that can be improved. Feeding back and acting on the information that has been generated from the engagement is a positive way to alter people’s perception of change.
While you have a Duty to Involve, there are many other reasons why community engagement is important. In fact, it plays an important part in implementing change successfully – or, if poorly handled, it can actually prevent change from taking place.
Developing understanding with community groups
When you are looking to implement change as to how or what services are delivered, one of the key reasons why working with local community groups is so important is that they are the key target audience for your service. By understanding the wants and needs of the community, from their aspirations and challenges, through to their values, you are better positioned to provide a service that meets their requirements. It also helps you build a relationship with them, which ultimately might lead to greater ownership and uptake of the service.
Take heed of community groups
You will also find that if your community groups are engaged with your service delivery, it will provide many benefits. As the key users of your service, they are best placed to tell you what works and what needs improvement. Ask for their opinions, as they might be able to offer a sensible solution to the challenges you face or suggest an innovative approach you can adopt that provides a positive impact for you and for them. Not only do you benefit, but by enabling them to help shape the way the service looks, they will ultimately receive a better service and feel that they have made a positive contribution to their community. This is particularly important when establishing an inclusive service. The more diverse the engagement opportunities, the more likely you are to reach the people on whom the service will have the greatest impact.
Engagement leading to acceptance
By developing a culture of community engagement and empowerment, you will save time and money, but more importantly, ultimately you will help create happier communities. By considering the thoughts and opinions of your local community groups – and showing how you have taken their suggestions on board in the delivery design, you will ultimately achieve greater acceptance of the service delivery to these same groups. The feelings of engagement and ownership will go a long way towards acceptance. Recognising and embracing this type of collaborative working will ultimately lead to a transformative approach to service delivery.
Contact us to find out more about ways to develop true engagement within your local community.