What does 2023 hold for community engagement? Following the last few years of the Covid-19 pandemic, communities are more engaged, connected and empowered than ever before.
Many of us are working from home more often and it’s likely we have gotten to know our neighbours and our local community better. We have all been ‘in it together’ for the past few years and communities have supported each other through some extremely challenging times.
In 2023, people are upskilled at digital technology like never before, and yet there is a strong desire to engage face-to-face in new and old ways. People are craving human connection, but we are also time poor and reliant on our phones for news and information.
As community engagement practitioners, we are in a unique position to embrace these changes to our society and look for innovative ways to involve communities in decision making.
Both government and private industry know that they must work closely with communities and key stakeholders to deliver better projects, that will be embraced by communities. Seeking genuine community and stakeholder input also provides different perspectives and drives innovation and diversity.
My top tips for community engagement in 2023 are:
• Don’t be afraid to try new things. Our society has changed dramatically in the last three years and our practice is evolving too.
• Always be clear about what your stakeholders can and can’t influence and explain the reasons why.
• When planning your engagement, spend some time seeing things from your stakeholder’s perspective to understand what type of engagement will work best and what the key issues could be.
• Include opportunities to build relationships – such as face-to-face engagement. This helps to build trust and is especially important if you encounter issues or opposition to your work.
• Incorporate digital engagement in your activities wherever possible – digital engagement creates opportunities to reach far and wide, show projects visually, reach different audiences, engage young people and engage harder to reach groups.
If you’re thinking about a community engagement project in 2023, please open a conversation with us today.
Find out more about Kirsty and her experience.