The Communities team are pleased to be back into the community, living up to their name. After an interesting two years full of rules and regulations, the team has been busy organising a range of in-person consultations for the first time since the pandemic hit.
While digital communication and feedback is extremely helpful and still has an important place in our consultation process, the team is remembering how fulfilling and important in-person discussion with the community is.
When in-person, the project team and attendees can be clearer and fuller with their questions, concerns can be handled efficiently and empathetically, and answers given instantly.
Face-to-face engagement gives a better chance to build trusting relationships and show that we care. It makes it easier to put yourself in the other person’s shoes especially when having difficult conversations. There are fewer interruptions and distractions such as technological difficulties, which helps us, and the project team give the community the full attention they deserve.
The pandemic has shown us the benefits of a combination approach to consultations. In-person events attract a higher turnout and are generally conducive to better levels of engagement. However, many people dislike or find digital engagement platforms difficult to navigate. Some are not used to using a computer, or struggle to read text on a screen, while for others, technology can be the only means of inputting into local plans due to accessibility or time restraints.
By making sure we have a combination of in-person consultations and digital materials going forward, as well as offering other means of contact such as phone numbers and email addresses, we can engage across the range of demographics and people that make a community whole, vibrant and a place to live.