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Engaging people through events in Southampton

How SO18 Big Local have built community engagement

October 2016

Events have been an effective way for SO18 Big Local to find people who can get more involved, as well as meeting a need and raising visibility. 

Events that attract a particular group – such as the Speak Up SO18 youth forum or the Queen’s 90th birthday cream tea aimed at older people – have helped to engage with residents across the community. 

With no a pre-existing network of active volunteers, SO18’s face to face activities have been a vital recruiting ground, but also raised questions about whether getting people to simply attend an event is a success.

What people say

‘The partnership has used activities to meet an expressed need. But then they work very hard at encouraging and nurturing people into other potential roles.’

‘They call it uncovering the treasure. To spot who has the interest, capacity, need, [or who] would benefit from being more involved and to gradually try to involve them a little bit more in taking responsibility.’

Top tips from SO18 Big Local

  • Nurture people who get involved, and don’t scare them off by saying ‘come and join our committee’.
  • Reflect on events – build in ‘wash up’ meetings soon after to review what went well and what could be improved.
  • Understand what you are trying to achieve and that it can be a slow process.

Research insight

Local context is key to understanding how engagement is defined and practised, and how effective it is, with different factors acting as ‘shapers’, challenges, barriers, or enablers. The factors that initially emerged as perhaps the most relevant were the plans and strategic focus of the area and size and nature of the community, as well as the influence, views and skills of the individuals involved.

Find out more

For more information, download the case study PDF below. This case study was prepared as part of NCVO’s research Community engagement within Big Local

Download case study

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