Background and Challenges
Birmingham City Council and the city’s local Health and Wellbeing Board had prepared a draft strategy on Health and Wellbeing from 2022-2030. They launched a public consultation to help to shape the final strategy based on views and experiences in local communities. As some groups are often found to be less represented in these consultations, we were commissioned to work with specific community groups to bring their views and insight into the consultation, making sure that the strategy was shaped by a range of voices and experiences.
Our key challenge was doing justice to the importance of reflecting community voices in policy-making! We know that local authorities want to shape services with the whole local community in mind, so we wanted to bring to the table as much information as we could from the diverse range of views from people with a huge range of life experience in the city. We made sure that people’s voices were heard in groups that can sometimes be underrepresented and it’s great to know that these voices have become an important part of shaping the future of health and wellbeing in the city through our work.
Representing the depth of views from the community participants in a thematic way was a great challenge for us and we looked at the insights we gathered with a strategic view and present these back to the client.
Encouraging participation in a pandemic can be tricky – in some cases online event participation isn’t suitable, yet in-person event participation also presents it’s own COVID issues and accessibility issues, especially in some communities. Many people are also living under pressure as a result of the effects of the pandemic. When combined with pre-existing circumstances and health inequalities, participants can find it hard to prioritise this kind of voluntary engagement.
This consultation was run over a short time frame and we would have liked to be able to engage over a longer period, building on relationships over time. With more time, we would be able to develop longer term approaches to engage with people in the community environment.
Trueman Change Involvement
We mapped out the Birmingham Health and Wellbeing Board draft strategy and broke it down into its components. We used these to build up structured discussion sessions that we scheduled in variations with 12 different communities:
- Faith (including Muslim Women's Group)
- Leisure Providers
- Young People
- Homeless/ Temporary Accommodation
- Deaf and Sight Loss
- Adults and Learning Disabilities
- Food Businesses
- Digital Exclusion
We delivered sessions with participants and analysed key findings. We presented these thematically back to our client in detailed reports with summaries. Birmingham City Council have used our findings to gain unique insight into lived experience and professional experience in the city.
Outcomes and Solutions
Birmingham City Council have been able to share the views of people from less represented communities with partners through our findings. Our work for this client has shaped their final strategy, influencing health and wellbeing priorities and provision across the city between 2022-2030. Our client have been able to ensure that a more diverse range of voices has been heard as a result of their consultation, bringing the Council and its partners closer to people in the local community.
Additional Value Added
We aimed to deliver value for our client through giving detailed insight in long-form reports to reflect the depth of views gathered. We also researched similar activity on Health and Wellbeing strategies and consultations in other regions in the UK, and attended similar sessions as participants ourselves. We have made recommendations for future activity that will help to make community engagement more inclusive with greater participation in the longer term.