Any tool or approach will only be effective if well planned and deployed as part of an engagement strategy. This involves planning, relationship building, and follow-up.
A starting point for any individual or group would be to ask the following three key questions:
- Where are we now - what is our current situation?
- Where do we want to be - what do we want to achieve?
- How do we get there?
You can then build a civic engagement strategy outlining the different tools and approaches to use at different stages along the way. There are many ways to engage with the structures, organisations and individuals who make decisions that affect lives - from letters, meetings, emails, public and media campaigns and, increasingly, the use of digital technology. You might engage in forums designed to facilitate public engagement with decision makers and service providers such as the Health Trust Local Commissioning Groups or the Housing Executive Tenants’ Forums. Think carefully about what it is you are trying to achieve, who you need to engage with, and choose the best methods for you, your stakeholders and your issue. It is likely that in your journey of engagement, you will use many tools and approaches.