Policy Press

Making community participation meaningful

A handbook for development and assessment

By Danny Burns, Frances Heywood, Marilyn Taylor, Pete Wilde and Mandy Wilson


Jul 21, 2004

Page count

76 pages




297 x 210 mm


Policy Press
Making community participation meaningful

This handbook is a companion volume to What works in assessing community participation? (The Policy Press, 2004) which documents the results of the road testing of two earlier frameworks for assessing community participation - Benchmarking community involvement in regeneration (Yorkshire Forward, 2000) and Auditing community participation: An assessment handbook (The Policy Press, 2000).

Making community participation meaningful outlines key considerations that are necessary to ensure that community participation is effective; provides detailed sets of questions to enable stakeholders to assess the extent to which the indicators of success are being met; highlights a variety of resources which can be used by community groups to generate information and insight into the key issues and offers the real prospect of a commonly accepted assessment framework which has the authority to be adopted across sectors.

"... a useful handbook for anyone working within their local community." LGA update

Danny Burns is Professor of Social and Organisational Learning and Co-director of SOLAR (Social and Organisational Learning as Action Research) at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Frances Heywood is Research Fellow at the School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol. Marilyn Taylor is Professor of Urban Governance and Regeneration at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Pete Wilde is a Director of the COGS consultancy (Communities and Organisations: Growth and Support). Mandy Wilson is also a Director of COGS.

SECTION ONE: Introduction: What is the purpose of such a detailed framework? What is community participation?; Why is community participation essential?; Key principles which have underpinned our work; What these frameworks can be used for; Key lessons from the road testing of the original frameworks; The structure of the framework; SECTION TWO: A new framework: Health warning; Applying the framework; Additional advice;

SECTION THREE: Reflective questions for addressing key considerations: 1 What different communities exist within your locality?; 2 Who or what has determined the rules in your partnership or for your initiative?; 3 What is the balance of power within the partnership/initiative?; 4 In what ways, and to what extent, are communities involved?; 5 What level of investment is there in community participation?; 6 Is there strong leadership to support community participation?; 7 Do decision-making structures allow for local diversity?; 8 Are you able to work in a joined-up way?; 9 Are service structures compatible with community participation?; 10 Is your group able to run in an effective and inclusive way?; 11 How does your group or organisation ensure that its representatives on committees and boards are accountable?; 12 How effective is your information and communication?; 13 Do you have an effective approach to community and organisational learning?; 14 Has participation made any difference? SECTION FOUR: Tools and exercises: A: Speedos; B Steps and barriers; C: Stakeholder cards; D: Objectives exercise; E: Drawings and pictures; F: Spider's web maps; G: Level of participation scale; H: Meetings checklist; I: The 'hats' form; J: The decision trail; K: Recording meetings.

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