Great Cumbrae Community Meeting 2022
Why is Community Engagement Important?
Tackling climate change effectively and rapidly is best achieved if the community is fully engaged. Action must be inclusive and just. Community-led decarbonisation plans must strive to address the needs of the whole community and ensure a sense of ownership. It is also crucial that everyone has a chance to have their voice heard. This is vital for good Community Engagement.
Community engagement is an ongoing process involving two-way dialogue throughout the lifetime of the project, from initial contact to completion.
This dialogue will be extensive and thorough, consisting of alternating phases of information exchange, open discussion, and confirming collective understanding before progressing further.
Overall, it can be seen as including up to six stages common to good community engagement, to support community-led action.
Key Points to consider when planning Community Engagement:
- Transparency in community engagement is important. Ensure that the aims of the engagement and intended outcomes are clear, as well as how and when you intend to follow up.
- Using a mixture of distinct types of community engagement is key to ensure you can reach as many community members as possible and provide opportunities for them to engage in a meaningful way.
- To ensure your engagement activities are as inclusive as possible consider the barriers that might prevent community members from engaging. These might include physical barriers, social barriers, or financial barriers. Think about When, Where and How your events are being held and how these factors might impact inclusivity.
- The aim is to create an ongoing dialogue with the community so regular, clear communication is important, along with the opportunity for community members to feedback in different formats.
- It is important to build on projects that have already been completed or are currently underway in your community to allow benefit from existing work and knowledge.
- Language is important; local languages connect people to places and shape a sense of community. Consider running events and producing materials in locally used languages/dialects.
- Creative arts are another way to communicate and engage the imagination, both as a way of exploring ideas and for expressing outcomes.
- Intergenerational events, which facilitate conversations between the older generation and young folk, offer a chance to explore ideas for the future while drawing on knowledge and experience from the past.
- Social media and online surveys can be valuable communication tools but be aware that connectivity issues and differing levels of digital literacy may mean they are not accessible to all community members. Always offer a non-digital alternative.
- People need to see the benefit of giving up their time to take part in the community engagement and to understand how the project is relevant to them.
- Please see further helpful tips that CEMVO – Community Engagement – Top Ten Tips.docx have shared.
The case studies below illustrate how diverse types of engagement can reach different audiences. They also highlight that it’s often important to go to people where they feel comfortable and in a setting they are used to.
- “Raasay Together Festival” to celebrate the CNI project and bring the community together.
- Guided nature and history walk.
- The community hall was filled with a range of relevant stalls
- A workshop run by The Forge, a social enterprise, who used local ‘scrap’ wood to construct garden furniture.
- ATLAS arts showed Dàn Fianais (Protest Poem), a film-portrait of Skye and Lochalsh and some of its inhabitants.
- Talks from Stephen Bungard, recorder for the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland and Donnie Mackay, Home energy advice expert.
- Meal of locally sourced food accompanied by music, fuelling conversations between friends and new contacts.
Many people attended the event, the majority from Raasay but several groups of people came from Skye & the mainland. The festival brought the whole community together and fostered a sense of community cohesion and offered a positive way of connecting with the CNI project.
- Worked with Raasay Development Trust to collate the questions for the survey to prevent community engagement fatigue by having residents respond on both projects at once.
- The Household survey was distributed to all residents on Raasay allowing people to participate either online or on hard copies through home visits.
- To ensure a high response rate, the Community Development Officers also went door to door knocking to help ensure the process was accessible to all.
- A response rate of 86% was achieved.
- This created the opportunity to have a lot of one-to-one chats with a wide variety of residents.
- CDOs got a sense of the most pressing issues for the community.
- It allowed residents to share concerns about the CNI project and discuss the project more holistically.
- The information collected has led to further work around housing conditions being explored through a partnership with the Energy Advice Services team from Lochalsh and Skye housing association.
- The household survey was one of the first community engagement practices on Raasay led by the CNI project
- It helped create a strong foundation of community interest and trust in the CNI project Raasay.
- Hosted a Community Carvery with local produce
- Got residents to prioritse the actions for the CCAP and provided a platform to share ideas on CNI going forward.
- As part of the participants’ involvement, and once they had eaten their meal, they were asked to read and give their views on the full carbon audits and information the CDO had generated to date.
- All ideas were spread among the tables in the hall, with one category per table, and the public were asked to select the top 3 ideas they liked best within each category.
- Attracted over 150 local residents to participate
- Prioritised all actions in the CCAP
- Made the community aware of the potential of CNI and allowed the community to shape the priorities of CNI
- Allowed community engagement with CNI in a relaxed setting
- Displayed key information from the carbon audits and CCAP in Islay
- A ‘local produce’ prize quiz based on display info
- Distributed copies of the CCAP and CCAP summary Present basic proposal ideas for the community solar project
- Obtained feedback from post-its and the ‘ideas box’
- Encouraged ongoing response to paper survey and QR link to online survey
- Handed out free energy saving LED lightbulbs
- Used a 100W solar panel to charge devices in the tent
- Lots of discussion generated with over 200 people
- Generally positive responses
- Some initial scepticism and concern about restriction of local people
- Positive response to plans for holistic emissions reduction
- Setting gave space to have proper conversations in a relaxed and informal setting.
- Concern around distilling industry, ranging from protecting the industry to reducing its impact.
- Local people and distilling industry were were glad to hear the project is working alongside the industry.
- Many positive conversations around plans for CNI projects that are proposed for this year.
- Good way to connect with people who wouldn’t normally attend a decarbonisation event
One to one engagement
- The Cumbrae Community Development Officer works in an office space in a public building and encouraged members of the public to drop in
- People are able to come in and speak and get advice about issues and speak to somebody face to face, ad hoc at a time that suits them
- People regularly come in and share relevant news stories, local experiences and help to give the community development officer a wider picture of the current priorities the community is facing environmentally and socially.
- The CNI project is very visible and there is a friendly face to chat through issues with.
Collaborating with other partners
- Drop in sessions called “Keep Yell Warm days” held every Tuesday throughout the Winter in the local Cullivoe hall
- Purpose was to generate conversation and promote residents’ ideas, and also provided residents with the opportunity to ask questions of the project.
- Weekly catch ups with local residents and an informal space to discuss the CNI project
- Networking with other organisations that are working on social and environmental issues in Yell currently.