Planning for Real in Tullyally

Catherine Cooke

Over 20 years ago the Tullyally Health Group used Planning for Real as a tool for community engagement to agree on priority issues that needed to be addressed in their area
How It Works

In the first part of the exercise, the community had identified 21 local issues in the community and now needed to prioritise them. The local youth club built a 3D model of the community, showing every house in the area. The process then involved each local household being given a ‘polling card’ and invited to vote for their priorities. People presented their card in the local community centre and then, once checked off the register, got five sticky dots to place alongside their top five priorities, which were posted on charts on walls. As an added incentive the polling cards were also entered for a big draw that was held at the end of the event. 

Whenever a family came to vote, a sticker was put on the roof of their house on the 3D model so that visually it was evident who had taken part. The youth club helped to raise awareness of the event and on the morning of the event children in fancy dress paraded through the area, led by someone playing a flute, rather like the Pied Piper going through the estate! When children came to the venue and saw that there was no sticker for example on the 3D model of their granny’s house or their auntie’s house, they went and told them they had to come and vote! 

Local service providers such as Derry City Council, the Health Trust and the Housing Executive were partners in the initiative. This enabled them to engage with the local community and hear what the local issues were. The initiative was highly successful, with a participation rate of about 95% from the local community. It also provided the organising group (the Tullyally Health Group) with a mandate for their future work.

How It Works

Factors that contributed to its success centred around the fact that it engaged the whole community and there was something in it for everyone:

  • The children in the youth club planned and built the model; every household received an invitation, so all felt involved; 
  • People could see if there was no sticker on their own or someone else’s house and that encouraged them to participate; 
  • There was a prize at the end of it; and
  • The selection of the priorities was very public – people could see how many preferences were being expressed for various issues as the sticky dots were placed by individuals.

This approach could be useful as a way of helping people decide what topics they want to talk about or what issues they want to take action on. It also gives people an opportunity to express their own individual opinion yet preserves their anonymity. The approach’s use of 3D modelling, alongside mass consultation, could be adapted and developed with digital technology playing a part.

For more information see: http://www.planningforreal.org.uk/